Skip to main content

Full text of "Complete works. Edited from numerous manuscripts by Walter W. Skeat"

See other formats






* * * 
* * 


Oxford University Press 

London Edinburgh Glasgo'u, Copenhagen 

Ncu,rork Toronto Melbourne Cape Town 

Bombay Calcutta Madras Shanghai 

Humphrey Milford, Publisher to the University 







LiTT.D., LL.D., D.C.L., Ph.D. 


* 4i « 



'hit oghte thee to lykc; 
For hard langage and hard matere 
li encombrous for to here 
At ones; wost thou not wel this?' 

Hoits of Famt ; 860 



/ f S7 

V. ^- 


First edition, 1894 
Second edition, tgoo 
Impression of 1924 



Introduction. — § i. Some points for discussion. § 2. Canon of 
Chaucer's Works. ThjTine's edition of 1532. § 3. Later reprints. 
§ 4. Tyrwhitt's edition ; and his endeavours to establish a canon. 
§ 5. The same; continued. § 6. Chalmers' edition. § 7. The 
anonymous edition of 1845; published by Moxon. § S. This 
edition due to Tyrwhitt's suggestions. § 9. Later work ; results 
arrived at by Prof. Lounsbury. § 10. Some of the Minor Poems 
in the present edition. § 11. The Poem no. XXIV. § 12. Poems 
numbered XXIII, XXV, and XXVI. § 13. The text of the 
Canterbury Tales; lines 'clipped' at the beginning. § 14. The 
Ilarlcian MS. § 15. The EUesmere MS. § 16. The old black- 
letter editions. § 17. Stowe's edition in 156 1. § 18. Drydcn's 
remarks on Chaucer's verse. § 19. Brief rules for scansion. § 20. 
Accentuation. § 31. Examples. § 22. Old pronunciation. § 23. 
Modernising of spelling. § 24. Sources of the Notes; ac- 
knowledgments ix 

Notes to Grolt A i 

The General Prologue i 

The Knigiites Tale 60 

The Miller's Prologue 95 

The Milleres Tale 96 

The Reve's Prologue 112 

The Reves Tale 116 

The Cook's Prologue 128 

The Cokes Tale 129 

Notes to Group B '132 

Introduction to the Man ok Lawes Tale . . . .132 

Prologue to the Man ok Lawes Tale 141 

The Tale ok the Man ok Lawe 145 



The Shipman's Prologue 
The Shipmannes Tale 
The Prioress's Prologue 
The Prioresses Tale . 
Prologue to Sir Thopas 
The Tale of Sir Thopas 
Prologue lo Melibeus 
The Tale of Melibeus 
The Monk's Prologue 
The Monkes Tale 
The Nonne Prestes Prologue 
The Nonne Preestes Tale 
Epilogue .... 

Notes to Group C . . . 
The Phisiciens Tale 
Words of the Host . 
The Pardoneres Prologue 
The Pardoneres Tale 

Notes to Group D . . 

The Wife of Bath's Prologue 

The Tale of the Wyf of Bathe 

The Friar's Prologue 

The Freres Tale 

The Sompnour's Prologue 

The Somnours Tale . 

Notes to Group E . . 
The Clerkes Prologue 
The Clerkes Tale . 
The Marchauntes Prologue 
The Marchantes Tale 

Notes to Group F . . 
The Squieres Tale . 
The Words of the Franklin 
The Prologue of the Franklin's Tale 
The Frankeleyns Tale , 






















VI 1 

Notes to Group G . . . . 
The Second Nonnes Tale 
The Canon's Yeoman's Prologue 
The Chanouns Yemannes Tale 

Notes to Group II . 

The Manciple's Prologue 
The Maunciples Talk 

Notes to Group I . . . . 
The Parson's Prologue . 
The Persones Tale . 

Notes to the Tale of Gamelyn . 







Index to the Subjects, etc., explained in the Notes 



§ I. In the brief Introduction to vol. iv. I have given a list 
of the MSS. of the Canterbury Tales ; some account of the early 
printed editions ; and some explanation of the methods employed 
in preparing the present edition. I propose here to discuss 
further certain important points of general interest. And first, 
I would say a few words as to the Canon of Chaucer's ^^'orks, 
whereby the genuine works are separated from others that 
have been attributed to him, at various times, by mistake or 

§ 2. Canon- ok Ch.vucer's Works. 

This has already been considered, at considerable length, in 
vol. i. pp. 20-90. But it is necessary to say a few words on the 
whole subject, owing to the extremely erroneous opinions that 
are so widely prevalent. 

Sometimes a poem is claimed for Chaucer because it occurs 
' in a Chaucer MS.' There is a certain force in this plea in 
a few cases, as I have already pointed out. But it commonly 
happens that such MSS. (as, for e.xample, MS. Fairfax 16, MS. 
Bodley 638, and others) are mere collections of poetry of the 
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, from which nothing can safely 
be inferred as to the authorship of the poems which they 
contain, unless the scribe distinctly gives the author's name '. As 
a rule, however, the scribes not only omit to mention names, 
but they frequently omit the very title of the poem, and thus 

* The scribe is usually right. I only remember observing one MS. in 
which the scribe is reckless ; see vol. i. p. 47. 


withhold such help as, in many cases, they might easily have 

The celebrated first edition of ' Chaticer's Works,' edited 

by William Thynne in 1532, made no attempt to establish 

any canon. Thynne simply put together such a book as he 

believed would be generally acceptable ; and deliberately inserted 

poems which he knew to be by other authors. Some of these 

poems bear the name of Lydgate ; one has the name of Gower ; 

and another, by Hoccleve, is dated 1402, or two years after 

Chaucer's death. They were tossed together without much 

attempt at order ; so that even the eleventh poem in the volume 

is 'The Floure of Curtesie, made by Ihon lidgate.' The edition, 

in fact, is a mere collection of poems by Chaucer, Lydgate, 

Gower, Hoccleve, Robert Henrysoun, Sir Richard Ros, and 

various anonymous authors ; and the number of poems by other 

authors almost equals the number of Chaucer's. The mere 

accident of the inclusion of a given piece in this volume 

practically tells us nothing, unless it happens to be distinctly 

marked ; though we can, of course, often tell the authorship from 

some remark made by Chaucer himself, or by others. And the 

net result is this ; that Thynne neither attempted to draw up a list 

of Chaucer's genuine works, nor to exclude such works as were 

not his. He merely printed such things as came to hand, without 

any attempt at selection or observance of order, or regard to 

authorship. All that we can say is, that he did not knowingly 

exclude any of the genuine pieces. Nevertheless, he omitted 

Chaucer's A.B.C, of which there must have been many copies in 

existence, for we have twelve still extant. 

§ 3. The mere repetition of this collection, in various reprints, 
did not confer on it any fresh authority. Stowe indeed, in 1561, 
added more pieces to the collection, but he suppressed nothing. 
Neither did he himself exercise much principle of selection ; see 
vol. i. p. 56. He even added The Storie of Thebes, which he 
must have known to be Lydgate's. Later reprints were all 
edited after the same bewildering fashion. 

§ 4. The first person to exercise any discrimination in this 
matter was Thomas Tyrwhitt, who published a new edition of 
the Canterbury Tales in five volumes, 8vo., in 1775-8; being 
the first edition in which some critical care was exercised. After 
Tyrwhitt had printed the Canterbury Tales, accompanied by 


a most valuable commentary in the shape of Notes, it occurred to 
him to make a Glossarj-. He had not proceeded far before he 
decided that such a Glossary ought to be founded upon the 
whole of Chaucer's Works, instead of referring to the Tales only ; 
since this would alone suffice to shew clearly the nature of 
Chaucer's vocabulary. He at once began to draw up something 
in the nature of a canon. He rejected the works that were 
marked with the names of other poets, and remorselessly swept 
away a large number of Stowe's very casual additions. And, 
considering that he was unable, at that date, to apply any 
linguistic tests of any value— that he had no means of dis- 
tinguishing Chaucer's rimes from those of other poets — that 
he had, in fact, nothing to guide him but his literary instinct 
and a few notes found in the MSS.— his attempt was a fairly 
good one. He decisively rejected the following poems found in 
Thynne's edition, vi/. no. 4 (Testament of Criseyde, by Henry- 
soun); II (The Floure of Curtesie, by Lydgate) ; 13 (La Belle 
Dame, by Sir R. Ros) ; 15 (The Assemblee of I>adies); 18 
(A Praise of Women) ; 2 1 (The Lamentacion of Marie Magda- 
leine) ; 22 (The Remedie of Love); 25 (The Letter of Cupide, 
by Hoccleve) ; 26 (A Ballade in commendacion of our Ladie, by 
Lydgate); 27 (Jhon Cower to Henry IN); 28 and 29 (Sayings 
of Dan John, by Lydgate) ; 30 (Balade de Bon Conseil, by 
Lydgate) ; 32 (Balade with Envoy — O leude booke) ; 23 (Scogan's 
poem, except the stanzas on Gentilesse) ; 40 (A balade . . ., by Dan 
John lidgat) ; and in no single instance was he wrong in his 
rejection. He also implied that the following had no claim 
to be Chaucer's, as he did not insert them in his final list ; viz. 
no. 6 (A goodlie balade of Chaucer) ; and 38 (Two stanzas — Go 
foorthe, kyng) ; and here he was again quite right. It is also 
obvious that no. 41 (A balade in the of Master Geffray 
Chauser) was written by another hand ; and indeed, the first line 
says that Chaucer 'now lith in grave.' It will at once be seen that 
Tyrwhitt did excellent service; for, in fact, he eliminated from 
Thynne's edition no less than nineteen pieces out of forty-one ; 
leaving only twenty-two ' remaining. Of this remainder, if we 
include The Romaunt of the Rose, all but three are unhesitatingly 
accepted by scholars. The three exceptions are nos. 17, 20, and 

' To which add, as a twent^'-third, the three stanzas on Gentilesse quoted 
in Scogan's poem (no. 33). 



31 ; i.e. The Complaint of the Black Knight^; The Testament 
of Love 2 ; and The Cuckoo and the Nightingale. 

§ 5. When Tynvhitt came to examine the later editions, the 
only other pieces that seemed to him sufficiently good for the 
purpose of being quoted in his Glossary were the six following, 
viz. Chaucer's A. B.C. (in ed. 1602); The Court of Love (in ed. 
1561); Chaucer's Dreme (in ed. 1598); The Flower and the 
Leaf (in ed. 1598); Proverbes by Chaucer (in ed. 1561) ; and 
Chaucer's Words to his Scrivener Adam (in ed. 1561). Of 
these, we may accept the first and the two last; but there is 
no external evidence in favour of the other three. He also added 
that the Virelai (no. 50, in ed. 1561) may 'perhaps' be Chaucer's. 

§ 6. In 181 o we find an edition of Chaucer's Works, by 
A. Chalmers, F.S.A., in the first volume of the * English Poets,' 
collected in twenty-one volumes. In this edition, some sort of 
attempt was made, for the first time, to separate the spurious 
from the genuine poems. But this separation was made with 
such reckless carelessness that we actually find no less than 
six poems (nos. 36, 38, 39, 42, 43, 44, in vol. i. 32, 33, above) 
printed twice over, once as being genuine, and once as being 
spurious^. It is obvious that we cannot accept a canon of 
Chaucer's Works of such a character as this. 

§ 7. In 1845 appeared the edition in which modern critics, till 
quite recently, put all their trust ; and no student will ever under- 
stand what is really meant by 'the canon of Chaucer's Works' 
until he examines this edition with something like common care. 
It bears this remarkable title : — ' The Poetical Works of Geoffrey 
Chaucer. With an Essay on his Language and Versification, and an 

^ Now known to be Lydgatc's; see vol. i. p. 35, note 3. 

° I have lately made a curious discovery as to the Testament of Love. 
The first paragraph begins with a large capital M ; the second with a large 
capital A ; and so on. By putting together all the letters thus pointed out, 
we at once have an acrostic, forming a complete sentence. The sentence 
the last word is expressed as an anagram, which I decipher as KITSVN, 
i. e. Kitsun, the author's name. The whole piece is clearly addressed to 
a lady named Margaret, and contains frequent reference to the virtues of 
pearls, which were supposed to possess healing powers. Even if ' Kitsun ' 
is not the right reading, we learn something ; for it is quite clear that 
TSKNVI cannot possibly represent the name of Chaucer. See The 
Academy, March ri, 1893 ; p. 222. 

" No. 38 is not noticed in the Index, on its reappearance at p. 555. 


Introductory Discourse ; together with Notes and a Glossary. By 
Thomas Tyrwhitt. London : Edward Moxon, Dover Street, i S55'.' 
In this title, which must be most carefully scanned, there is 
one very slight unintentional misprint, which alters its whole 
character. The stop after the word ' Glossary ' should have been 
a comma only. The difference in sense is something startling. 
The title-page was meant to convey that the vohime contains, 
(i) The Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer (comprising 
Tyrwhitt's text of the Canterbury Tales, the remaining poems being 
ano7iymoiisly reedited) ; and that it also contains, (2) an Essay, 
a Discourse, Notes, and a Glossary, all by Thomas Tyrwhitt. 
Such are the facts; and such would have been the (possible) 
sense of the title-page, if the comma after ' Cilossary ' had not been 
misprinted as a full stop. But as the title actually appears, even 
serious students have fallen into the error of supposing that 
Tyrwhitt edited these Poetical Works ; an error of the first 
magnitude, which has produced disastrous results. A moment's 
reflection will shew that, as Tynvhitt edited the Canterbury Tales 
only, and died in 1786, he could not have edited the Poetical 
Works in 1845, fifty-nine years after his death. It would have 
been better if a short explanation, to this effect, had been inserted 
in the volume; but there is nothing of the kind. 

It must therefore be carefully borne in mind, that this edition 
of 1845, on the title-page of which the name of Tyrwhitt is so 
conspicuous, was really edited anonymously, or may even be 
said not to have been edited at all. The Canterbury Tales are 
reprinted from Tyrwhitt ; and so also are the Essay, the Discourse, 
the Notes, and the Glossary ; and it is most important to observe 
that 'the Glossary' is preceded by Tyrwhitt's 'Advertisement,' 
and by his 'Account of the Works of Chaucer to which this 
Glossary is adapted ; and of those other pieces "^ which have been 
improperly intermixed with his in the Editions.' The volume is, 
in fact, made up in this way. Pages i-lxx and 1-209 ^"^^ ^^^ 
due to Tyrwhitt; and contain a Preface, an Appendix to the 
Preface, an Abstract of Passages of the Life of Chaucer, an Essay, 
an Introductory Discourse to the Tales, and the Tales themselves. 

' Originally (I understand) 1845. ^ have only a copy with a reprinted 
title-page and an altered date. 

" It should be— 'and of sow;^ 0/ those other pieces'; for the 'Account' 
does not profess to be exhaustive. 



Again, pp. 441-502 are all due to Tyrwhitt, and contain an 
Advertisement to the Glossary, an Account of Chaucer's Works 
(as above), and a Glossary. Moreover, this Glossary contains 
a large number of words from most of Chaucer's Works, including 
even his prose treatises ; besides a handful of words from spurious 
works such as * Chaucer's Dream.' 

In this way, all the former part and all the latter part of the 
volume are due to Tyrwhitt ; it is the middle part that is wholly 
independent of him. It is here that we find no less than twenty- 
five poems, which he never edited, reprinted (inexactly) from the 
old black-letter editions or from Chalmers. It thus becomes 
plain that the words 'By Thomas Tyrwhitt' on the title-page 
refer only to the second clause of it, but have no reference to the 
former clause, consisting of the words, *The Poetical Works of 
Geoffrey Chaucer.' It remains to be said that the twenty-five 
poems which are here appended to the Canterbury Tales are well 
selected ; and that the anonymous editor or superintendent was 
guided in his choice by Tyrwhitt's ' Account of the Works.' 

§ 8. This somewhat tedious account is absolutely necessary, 
every word of it, in order to enable the reader to understand 
what has always been meant (since 1845) by critics who talk 
about some works as being ' attributed to Chaucer.' They really 
mean (in the case, for example, of The Cuckoo and the Nightin- 
gale) that it happens to be included in a certain volume by an 
anonymous editor, published in 1845, in which the suggestions 
made by Tyrwhitt in 1778 were practically adopted without any 
important deviation. In the case of any other author, such 
a basis for a canon would be considered rather a sandy one ; it 
derives its whole value from the fact that Tyrwhitt was an 
excellent literary critic, who may well be excused for a few 
mistakes, considering how much service he did in thus reducing 
the number of poems in ' Chaucer's Works ' from 64 to little 
more than 26 '. Really, this was a grand achievement, especially 
as it clearly emphasised the absurdity of trusting to the old 
editions. But it is an abuse of language to say that * The Cuckoo 
and Nightingale ' has ' always been attributed to Chaucer,' merely 

^ See the pieces numbered 1-68, in vol. i. pp. 31-45. But four pieces 
are in prose, viz. Boethius, Astrolabe, Testament of Love, and Jack Upland. 
Of course Tyr\vhitt rejected Jack Upland. He admitted, however, rather 
more than 26, the number in the edition of 1845. 



because it happens to have been printed by Thynne in 1532, and 
had the good luck to be accepted by Tyrwhitt in 1778. On the 
contrary, such a piece remains on its trial; and it must be 
rejected absolutely, both on the external and on the internal 
evidence. Externally, no scribe or early writer connects 
it with him in any way. Internally, for reasons given in vol. i. 
p. 39 ' ; and for other reasons given in Lounsbury's Studies in 

§ 9. The chief value of the anonymous edition in 1S45 is, that it 
gave practical expression to Tyrwhitt's views. The later editions 
by Bell and Morris were, in some respects, retrogressive. Both, 
for example, include The Lamentation of Mary Magdalene, which 
Tyrwhitt rightly denounced in no dubious terms ; (sec vol. i. 
above, pp. 37, 38>. But, of late years, the question of con- 
structing a canon of Chaucer's genuine works has received 
proper attention, and has 1)een considered by such scholars as 
Henry Bradshaw, Bcrnhard ten Brink, Dr. Koch, Dr. Furnivall, 
Professor Lounsbury, and others; with a fairly unanimous result. 
The whole question is well summed up in Lounsbury's Studies 
in Chaucer, Chapter IV, on 'The Writings of Chaucer.' His 
conclusion is, that his 'examination leaves as works about which 
there is no dispute twenty-six titles.' By these titles he means 
The Canterbury Tales, Boethius, Troilus, The House of Fame, 
The Legend of Good ^^'omen, The Astrolabe, and the nineteen 
Minor Poems which I denote by the numbers I-XI, XIII-XX 
(no. XX being counted as hvo). His examination did not at first 
include no. XII (To Rosemoundc) ; but, in his Appendix (vol. 
iii. pp. 449, 45o\ he calls attention to it, and accepts it without 
hesitation. He also says of no. XXII, that 'it may be Chaucer's 
own work.' 

§ 10. I may add a few words about the other Minor Poems 
which I now print, numbered XXI, XXIII, and XXIV-XXVI; 
the last three of which appear in vol. iv. pp. xxv-xxxi. 

As regards no. XXI, or 'Against Women Unconstaunt,' 

* The false rime of now with icscoiie in st. 46 may be got over, it is 
suggested, by a change in the readings. On the other hand, 1 now observe 
a fatal rhyme in st. 17, where upon and roi rime with tnon, a man. When 
such a form as tnon for uian) can be found in Chaucer, we may reconsider 
his claim to this poem. Meanwhile, I would note the curious word gyede 
in St. 27. It does not occur in Chaucer, but is frequent in The Owl and the 


I observe that Mr. Pollard, in his ' Chaucer Primer,' has these 
words. The authenticity of this poem ' has lately been reasserted 
by Prof. Skeat, on the triple ground that it is (i) a good poem; 
(2) perfect in its rhymes'; (3) found in conjunction with poems 
undoubtedly by Chaucer in two MSB.' This account, however, 
leaves out my chief argument, viz. its obvious dependence upon 
a Ballade by ALichault, whom Chaucer is known to have imitated, 
and who is not known to have been imitated by any other 
Englishman. I also lay stress on the very peculiar manner in 
which the poem occurs in MS. Ct. See above, vol. i. p. 88. It 
should also be compared with the Balade to Rosemounde, which 
it resembles in tone. It seems to me that the printing of this 
poem in an Appendix is quite justifiable. We may some day 
learn more about it. 

§ II. As regards no. XXIV {vol. iv. p. xxv), the external 
evidence is explicit. It occurs in the same MS. as that which 
authenticates no. VI (A Compleint to his Lady) ; and the MS. 
itself is one of Shirley's. Internally, we observe the great 
peculiarity of the rhythm. Not only is the poem arranged in 
nine-line stanzas, but the whole is a tour de force. In the course 
of 33 lines, there are but 3 rime-endings ; and we may particularly 
notice the repetition of the first two lines at the end of the poem, 
just as in the Complaint of Anelida, which likewise begins and 
ends with a line in which remembraunce is the last word. We 
have here a specimen of the kind of nine-line stanza (examples of 
which are very scarce) which Hoccleve endeavoured to imitate 
in his Balade to my Lord of York "^ ; but Hoccleve had to employ 
three rimes in the stanza instead of two. The poem is chiefly 
of importance as an example of Chaucer's metrical experiments, 
and as being an excellent specimen of a Complaint. There is 
a particular reason for taking an interest in all poems of this 
character, because few Complaints are extant, although Chaucer 
assures us that he wrote many of them. 

§ 12. As to the poems numbered XXIII (A Balade of Com- 
pleynt), XXV (Complaint to my Mortal Foe, vol. iv. p. xxvii), 
and XXVI (Complaint to my Lodesterre, vol. iv. p. xxix), there 
are two points of interest: (i) that they are Complaints, and 

' Exception may be taken to the riming of niene (1. so) with open e, and 
grene with close e. 

^ Hoccleve's Poems ; ed. Furnivall, p. 49 ; cf. p. 56. 


(2) that they have never been printed before. That they are 
genuine, I have no clear proof to offer ; but they certainly 
illustrate this peculiar kind of poem, and are of some interest ; 
and it is clearly a convenience to be able to compare them with 
such Complaints as we know to be genuine, particularly with 
no. VI (A Complaint to his Lady). They may be considered 
as relegated to an Appendix, for the purposes of comparison and 
illustration. I do not think I shall be much blamed for thus 
rendering them accessible. It may seem to some that it must be 
an easy task to discover unprinted poems that are reasonably like 
Chaucer's in vocabulary, tone, and rhythm. Those who think 
so had better take the task in hand ; they will probably, in any 
case, learn a good deal that they did not know before. The 
student of original MSS. sees many points in a new light ; and, 
if he is capable of it, will learn humility. 

§ 13. The text of the Canterbury T.\les. 

On this subject I have already said something above (vol. iv. 
pp. xvii-xx) ; and have offered a few remarks on the texts in 
former editions (vol. iv. pp. xvi, xvii ; cf. p. viii). But I now 
take the opportunity of discussing the matter somewhat further. 

It is unfortunate that readers have hitherto been so accustomed 
to inaccurate texts, that they have necessarily imbibed several 
erroneous notions. I do not hereby intend any reflection upon 
the editors, as the best MSS. were inaccessible to them ; and 
it is only during the last few years that many important points 
regarding the grammar, the pronunciation, and the scansion of 
Middle-English have been sufficiently determined '. Still, the 
fact remains, and is too important to be passed over. 

In particular, I may call attention to the unfortunate prejudice 
against a certain habit of Chaucer's, which it taxed all the 
ingenuity of some of the editors to suppress. Chaucer frequently 
allows the first foot of his verse to consist of a single accented 
syllable, as has been abundantly illustrated above with respect 
to his Legend of Good Women (vol. iii. pp. xliv-xlvii). It was 
a natural mistake on Tyrwhitt's part to attribute the apparent 
fault to the scribes, and to amend the lines which seemed to 

' See the admirable remarks on this subject in Lounsbury's Studies 
in Chaucer, i. 305-28. Much that I wish to say is there said for me, 
in a way which I cannot improve. 

* * * K 


be so strangely defective. It will be sufficient to enumerate the 
lines of this character that occur in the Prologue, viz. 11. 76, 131, 
170, 247, 294, 371, and 391. 

Al I bismotered with his habergeoun. 
That I no drope ne fille upon hir breste 
Ging I len in a whistling wind as clere. 
For I to delen with no swich poraille. 
Twen I ty bokes, clad in blak or reed. 
Ev' I rich, for the wisdom that he can. 
In I a gownc of falding to the knee. 

Tyrwhitt alters Ai to A/le, meaning no doubt A/-k (dissyllabic), 
which would be ungrammatical. For That, he has Thatte, as if 
for That-te; whereas That is invariably a monosyllable. For 
Gwg/ing, he has Gingelhig, evidently meant to be lengthened out 
to a trisyllable. For For, he prints As for. For Twe)it}\ he has 
A twenty. The next line is untouched ; he clearly took Everich 
to be thoroughly trisyllabic ; which may be doubted. For /;/, 
he has All in. And the same system is applied, throughout all 
the Tales. The point is, of course, that the MSS. do not 
countenance such corrections, but are almost unanimously 
obstinate in asserting the ' imperfection ' of the lines \ 

The natural result of altering twenty to A twenty (not only 
here, but again in D. 1695), was to induce the belief in students 
that A t7venty hookes is a Chaucerian idiom. I can speak feelingly, 
for I believed it for some years ; and I have met with many 
who have done the same-. And the unfortunate part of the 
business is, that the restoration of the true reading shocks the 
reader's sense of propriety. This is to be regretted, certainly ; 
but the truth must be told; especially as the true readings of 
the MSS. are now, thanks to the Chaucer Society, accessible 
to many. The student, in fact, has something to unlearn ; and 
he who is most familiar with the old texts has to unlearn the 
most. The restoration of the text to the form of it given in 
the seven best MSS. is, consequently, in a few instances, of an 
almost revolutionary character ; and it is best that this should 
be said plainly". 

' MS. Lansdowne (the worst of the seven) has Alle, and Gyngelinge; 
Cm. has Gyngelyn ; HI. has Euery Mian ; and that is all. 

- The phrase wei a ten (F. 383) is not precisely parallel. 

* Thus, the Parson calls his Tale 'a mery ' one (1. 46). Tyrwhitt has ' a litel 


The editions by Wright and Morris do not repeat the above 
amendments by Tyrwhitt ; but strictly conform to the Harleian 
MS. Even so, they are not wholly correct ; for this MS. blunders 
over two lines out of the seven. It gives 1. 247 in this extra- 
ordinary' form : — ' For to delen with such poraile ' ; where the 
omission of 710 renders all scansion hopeless. And again, it 
gives 1. 371 in the form: — ' Euery man for the wisdom that 
he can ' ; which is hardly pleasing. And in a great many places, 
the faithful following of this treacherous MS. has led the editors 
into sad trouble. 

§ 14. The Harleian MS. The printing of this MS. for the 
Chaucer Society enables us to see that Mr. Wright did not adhere 
so closely to the text of the MS. as he would have us believe. 
As many readers may not have the opportunity of testing this 
statement for themselves, I here subjoin a few specimens of 
lines from this MS., to shew the nature of its errors. 

Bet than a lazer or a beggcre ; A. 242. 
So in Wright ; for be^gere read bcggestere. 

But al tliat he might gctc and his frendcs scnde ; A. 299. 
Corrected by Wright. 

For cchc of hem made othiir to wynne ; A. 427. 
Wright has ' othury^r to wynne.' This is correct ; but the word 
for is silently supplied, without comment ; and so in other cases. 
Of his visage children weren aferd ; A. 628. 
For weren^ read ivere ; or pronounce it 7vern. I cite this line 
because it is, practically, correct, and agrees with other MSS., it 
being remembered that ' visag-e ' is trisyllabic. But readers have 
not, as yet, been permitted to see this line in its correct form. The 
black-letter editions insert sore before aferd. Tynvhitt follows 
them ; Wright follows Tyrwhitt ; and Morris follows Wright, 
but prints sore in italics, to shew that there is here a deviation 
from the MS. of some sort or other. 

A few more quotations are here subjoined, without comment, 

I not which was the fyner of hem two ; A. 1039. 

To make a certeyn gerland for hire heede; A. 1054. 

And hereth him comyng in the greues ; A. 1641. 

They foyneden ech at other longe ; A. 1654. 

And as wilde boores gonne they smyte 

That frothen white as fome frothe wood ; A. 1658-g. 

Be it of pees, other hate or loue; A. 1671. 

b 2 


That sche for whom they haue this lelousj-e ; A. 1807 ^ 

As he that hath often ben caught in his lace; A. 1817. 

Charmes and sorcery, lesynges and flatcry ; A. 1927. 

And abouen hire heed dovvucs fleyng ; A. 1962. 

A bowe he bar, and arwes fair and greene ; A. 1966. 

I saugh woundes laughyng in here rage. 

The hunt strangled with wilde bores corage ; A. 201 1-8 ^ 

The riche aray of Thebes his paleys ; A. 2199. 

Now ryngede the tromp and clarioun ; A. 2600. 

In goth the spcres into the rest ; A. 2602. 

But as a lustes or as a turmentyng; A. 2720, 

And rent forth by arme foot and too; A. 2726. 

Of olde folk that ben of tcndre yeeres ; A. 2828. 

And eek more ryalte and holynesse ; A. 3180. 

He syngeth crowyng as a nightyngale ; A. 3377. 

What wikked way is he gan, gan he crye ; A. 4078, 

His wyf burdoun a ful strong; A. 4165. 

These examples shew that the Harleian MS. requires very 
careful watching. There is no doubt as to its early age and 
its frequent helpfulness in difficult passages ; but it is not the 
kind of MS. that should be greatly trusted. 

§ 15. The Ellesmere MS. The excellence of this MS. renders 
the task of editing the Tales much easier than that of editing 
The House of Fame or the Minor Poems. The text here given 
only varies from it in places where variation seemed highly 
desirable, as explained in the footnotes. As to my general 
treatment of it, I have spoken above (vol. iv. pp. xviii-xx). 

One great advantage of this MS., quite apart from the excellence 
of its readings, is the highly phonetic character of the spelling. 
The future editor will probably some day desire to normalise the 
spelling of Chaucer throughout his works. If so, he must very 
carefully study the spelling of the Ellesmere and Hengwrt MSS., 
which resemble each other very closely. By their help, it 
becomes possible to regulate the use of the final ^ to a very 
great extent, which is extremely helpful for the scansion of the 

§ 16. This matter is best illustrated by referring, for a while, 
to the old black-letter editions ; moreover, the whole matter 
will appear in a clearer light if we consider, at the same time, the 
remarkable argument put forward by Prof. Morley (Eng. Writers, 
V. 126) in favour of the genuineness of The Court of Love. 

' lelousye cannot rime with me. 

* The latter line answers to A. 2018; lines 2012-7 being wholly omitted. 


' Chaucer (he says) could not have written verse that would 
scan without sounding in due place the final -e. But when the 
final e came to be dropped, a skilful copyist of later time would 
have no difficulty whatever in making the lines run without it . . . 
If Chaucer wrote — "But that I like, may I not come by'" — it 
was an easy change to — ** But that I like, i/iat may I not come by." 
With so or and, or 7£'^//, or gaf, or thaf, and many a convenient 
monosyllable, lines that seemed short to the later ear were readily 
eked out.' He then proceeds to give a specimen from the 
beginning of the Canterbury Tales, suggesting, by way of example, 
that 1. 9 can easily be made to scan in modern fashion by 
writing — 'And when the small fowls maken melodye.' 

Such a theory would be perfectly true, if it had any basis in 
facts. The plain answer is, that later scribes easily might have 
eked out lines which seemed deficient ; only, as a matter of fact, 
they did not do so. The notion that Chaucer's lines run smoothly, 
and can be scanned, is quite a modern notion, largely due to 
Tyrwhitt's common sense. The editors of the sixteenth century 
did not knoic that Chaucer's lines ran smoothly, and did not often 
attempt to mend them, but generally gave them up as hopeless ; 
and we ought to be much obliged to them for doing so. When- 
ever they actually make amendments here and there, the patching 
is usually plain enough. The fact is, however, that they commonly 
let the texts alone ; so that if they followed a good MS., the lines 
will frequently scan, not by their help, but as it were in spite of 

§ 17. Let us look for a moment, at the very edition by Stowe 
(in 1 561), which contains the earliest copy of The Court of Love. 
The 9th line of the tales runs thus:— 'And smale fowles maken 
melodic,' which is sufficiently correct. We can scan it now in 
the present century, but it is strongly to be suspected that Stowe 
could not, and did not care to try. For this is how he presents 
some of the lines. 

Redie to go in my pilgrimage; A. sr. 

For him, wenden or tvende was a monosyllable ; and ^^6* would do 
just as well. 

The chambres and stables vveren wyde ; A. 28. 
He omits the before stables ; it did not matter to him. So that, 

' Which, by the way, makes come monosyllabic. 


instead oi filling up an imperfect line, as Prof. Morley says he 
would be sure to do, he leaves a gap. 

To tel you al the condicion ; A. 38, 

Tel should be tel-le. As it is, the line halts. But where is the 
filling up by the help of some convenient monosyllable ? 
I add a few more examples, from Stowe, without comment. 

For to tell you of his aray ; A. 73. 

In hope to stande in his ladyes grace ; A. 88. 

And Frenche she spake ful fetously; A. 124. 

Her mouth smale, and therto softe and reed ; A. 153. 

It was almost a span brode, I trowe ; A. 155. 

Another None with her had she ; A. 163. 

And in harping, whan he had song ; A. 266. 

Of hem that helpen him to scholay ; A. 302. 

Not a worde spake more than nede ; A. 304. 

Was very felicite perfite ; A. 338. 

His barge was called the Maudelain ; A. 410. 

It is needless to proceed; it is obvious that Stowe was not the 
man who would care to eke out a line by filling it up with convenient 
monosyllables. And it is just because these old editors usually let 
the text alone, that the old black-letter editions still retain a certain 
value, and represent some lost manuscript. 

§ 18. One editor, apparently Speght, actually had an inkling of 
the truth ; but he was promptly put down by Dryden (Pref. to the 
Fables). ' The verse of Chaucer, I confess, is not harmonious to 
us ; . . . there is the rude sweetness of a Scotch tune in it, which 
is natural and pleasing, though not perfect. It is true, I cannot 
go so far as he who published the last edition of him; for he 
would make us believe the fault is in our ears, and that there were 
really ten syllables in a verse where we find but nine ; but this 
error is not worth confuting ; it is so gross and obvious an error ', 
that common sense (which is a rule in everything but matters of 
faith and revelation) must convince the reader, that equality of 
numbers in every verse which we call Heroic, was either not known, 
or not always practised in Chaucer's age. It were an easy matter 
to produce some thousands of verses, which are lame for want of 
half a foot, and sometimes a whole one, and which no pronuncia- 
tion can make otherwise.' We cannot doubt that such was the 
prevalent opinion at that time. 

* Dryden had some reason ; for whenever (as often) the editors omitted 
some essential word, the line could not possibly be right. 


§ 19. For such readers as do not wish to study the language or 
the grammar of Chaucer, but merely wish to read the text with 
some degree of comfort, and to come by the stories and their 
general literary expression with the least possible trouble, the Elles- 
mere MS. furnishes quite an ideal text. Such a reader has only 
to observe the following empirical rules \ 

1. Pronounce every final e like the final a in China^ except in a 
few very common words like wo/de, sholde, were, and the like, which 
may be read as wold\ shold\ tcer', unless the metre seems to demand 
that they should be fully pronounced. The commonest clipped 
words of this character are have, hadde (when a mere auxiliary), 
were, 7iere (were not), wolde, nolde (would not), thise (like mod. E. 
these), othere, and a few others, that are easily picked up by 

2. Always pronounce final -ed, -es, -en, as distinct syllables, unless 
it is particularly convenient to clip them. Such extra syllables, 
like the final -e, are especially to be preserved at the end of the line ; 
a large number of the rimes being double (or feminine). 

3. But the final -e is almost invariably elided, and other light 
syllables, especially -en, -er, -el, are frequently treated as being 
redundant, whenever the next word following begins with a vowel 
or is one of the words (beginning with h) in the following list, 
viz. he, his, him, her, hir (their), hem (them), hath, hadde, have, 
haiv, heer. 

These three simple rules will go a long way. An attentive 
reader will thus catch the swing of the metre, and will be carried 
along almost mechanically. The chief obstacle to a succession of 
smooth lines is the jerk caused by the occasional occurrence 
of a line defective in the first foot, as explained above. Perhaps 
it may be further noted that an e sometimes occurs, as a distinct 
syllable, in the middle of a word as well as at the end of it, 
Exx. : Eng-e-iond {k. 16); %vod-e-craft (k. no); sem-e-iy {A. 136). 

§ 20. We must also remember that the accentuation of many 
words, especially of such as are of French origin, was quite different 
then from what it is now. A word like 'reason' was then 
properly pronounced resoun (rezuun), i. e. somewhat like a modern 
ray-zbon \ but even in Chaucer's day the habit of throwing back 
the accent was beginning to prevail, and there was a tendency to 

* The explanation of these rules depends upon Middle-English grammar 
and pronunciation ; for which see the Introduction to vol. vi. 


say rcson (rcezun), somewhat like a modern rdy-zim. Chaucer 
avails himself of this variable accent, and adopts the sound which 
comes in more conveniently at the moment *. Thus while we find 
resbtui (rezuun) in 1. 37, in 1. 274 we find rcsons (reezunz), 

§ 21. I give a few examples of the three rules stated above. 

The following words are properly dissyllabic, in the Prologue 
to the Canterbury Tales: — (1, i) shoii-res, so-te ; (2) drogh-te, 
Mar-che,per-ced,ro-fe; {t,) ba-ihed,vey-ne; (s) S7ve-/e; {f) crop-pes^ 
yon-ge, son-ne ; (8) half-e ; (9) sma-le^fow-les^ ma-ken ; (10) sk-pen, 
o-pen,y-c; (13) straim-ge^ strond-es ; (14) fer-ne^ hal-wes, lon-des ; 
(15) shi-res, end-e ; and so on. 

In the same way, there are three syllables in (i) A-pril-le ; 
(4) en-getid-red ; {^) Zeph-i-rus ; (6) In-spi-red ; (8) y-ron-ne ; ^o,. 
And there are four syllables in (9) me'l-o-dy-c ; (12) pil-grvn-d-ges. 

Elision takes place of the e in drogh-te and of the e in couth-e in 
1. 14 ; of the e in tiyn-e in 1. 24 ; &c. In such cases, the words may 
be read as if spelt droght, couth, ?iy}i, for convenience. There 
are some cases in which the scribe actually fails to write a final <?, 
owing to such elision ; but they are not common. I have noted 
a few in the Glossarial Index. 

The final e is ignored, before a consonant, in ^vere (59, 68, 74, 
81); and even, which is not common, in hope (88) and 7iose (152). 

As examples of accents to which we are no longer accustomed, 
we may notice A-pril-le (i) 3 ver-tu (4) ; cor-d-ges (n) ; d-ven-ture 
(25); tb-zvard (27); re-sbtin (37); hon-bur{dfi)) hon-bur-ed (50); 
a-ry-ve {^6) \ sta-tu-re (Zt,); Cur-teys (gc)). 

The lines were recited deliberately, with a distinct pause near 
the middle of each, at which no elision could take place. At this 
medial pause there is often a redundant syllable (as is more fully 
explained in vol. vi). Thus, in 1. 3, the -e in veyn-e should be 
preserved, though modern readers are sure to ignore it. Cf. carie 
in 1. 130 ; studie in 1. 184 ; &:c. 

§ 22. By help of the above hints, some notion of the melody 
of Chaucer may be gained, even by such as adopt the modern 
English pronunciation. It is right, however, to bear in mind that 
most of the vowels had, at that time, much the same powers as in 
modern French and Italian ; and it sometimes makes a con- 

' A v^ord like taverne is ia-ve'r-ue, in three syllables, if the accent be on 
the second syllable ; but when it is on the first, it becomes tdv-ern\ and is 
only dissyllabic. 


siderable difference. Thus the word charitahle in 1. 143 was 
really pronounced more like the modern French charitable ; only 
that the initial sound was that of the O. F. and E. ch, as in church, 
not that of the modern French ch in cJicr. For further remarks 
on the pronunciation, see vol. vi. 

§ 23, The feeble suggestion is sometimes made that Chaucer's 
spelling ought to be modernised, like that of Shakespeare. This 
betrays a total ignorance of the history of English spelling. It is 
not strictly the case, that Shakespeare's spelling has been 
modernised; for the fact is the other way, viz. that in all that 
is most essential, it is the spelling of Shakespeare's time that 
has been adopted in modern English. The so-called ' modern ' 
spelling is really a survival, and is sadly unfit, as we all know 
to our cost, for representing modern English sounds. By 
' modernising,' such critics usually mean the cutting off of final 
e in places where it was just as little required in Elizabethan 
English as it is now; the freer use of 'v' and of 'j'; and so 
forth ; nearly all of the alterations referring to unessential details. 
Such alterations would have been useful even in Shakespeare's 
time, and would not have touched the character of the spelling. 
But the spelling of Chaucer's time refers to quite a different 
age, when a large number of inflections were still in use that 
have since been discarded; so that it involves changes in essential 
and vital points. As it happens, the spelling of the Ellesmere 
MS. is phonetic in a very high degree. Pronounce the words 
as they are spelt, but with the Italian vowel-sounds and the 
German final e, and you come very near the truth. If this is too 
much trouble, pronounce the words as they are spelt, with modern 
English vowels (usually adding a final e, pronounced like a in 
China, when it is visibly present) ; and, even so, it is easy to 
follow. The alteration of a word like (2ue7ie to queene does not 
make it any easier ; and the further alteration to queen destroys 
its dissyllabic nature. Besides, those who want the spelling 
modernised can get it in GilfiUan's edition. 

Surely, it is better to stick to the true old phonetic spelling. 
Boys at school, who have learnt Attic Greek, are supposed to be 
able to face the spelling of Homer without wincing, though it is 
not their native language ; and the number of Englishwomen who 
are fairly familiar with !Middle-English is becoming considerable. 

§ 24. As regards the Notes in the present volume, it will be 


readily understood that I have copied them or collected them 
from many sources. Many of those on the Prologue and Knightes 
Tale were really written by Dr. Morris ; but, owing to the great 
kindness he shewed me in allowing me to work in conjunction 
with him on terms of equality, I should often be hard put to it to 
say which they are. A large number are taken from the editions 
by Tyrwhitt, Wright, and Bell ; but these are usually acknowledged. 
Others I have adopted from the various works published by the 
Chaucer Society ; from the excellent notes by Dr. Koppell, 
Dr. Kolbing, and Dr. Koch that have appeared in Anglia, and 
in similar publications ; and from Professor Lounsbury's excellent 
work entitled Studies in Chaucer. I have usually endeavoured 
to point out the sources of my information ; and, if I have in 
several cases failed to do this, I hope it will be understood that, 
as Chaucer's fox said, ' I dide it in no wikke entente.' Perhaps 
this may seem an unlucky reference, for the fox was not speaking 
the strict truth, as we all know that he ought to have done. If 
I may take any credit for any part of the Notes, I think it may be 
for my endeavour to hunt up, as far as I could, a large number of 
the very frequent allusions to Le Roman de la Rose ^, and to such 
authors as Ovid and Statins; besides undertaking the more 
difficult task involved in tracing out some of the mysterious 
references which occur in the margins of the manuscripts. For 
the Tale of Melibeus, I naturally derived much help and comfort 
from the admirable edition of Albertano's Liber Consolationis 
by Thor Sundby, and the careful notes made by Matzner. As 
for the references in the Persones Tale, I should never have 
found out so many of them, but for the kind assistance of the 
Rev. E. Marshall. To all my predecessors in the task of anno- 
tation, and to all helpers, I beg leave to express my hearty thanks. 
For further remarks on this and some other subjects, see vol. vi. 

As it frequently happens that it is highly desirable to be able 
to recover speedily the whereabouts of a note on some particular 
word or subject, an Index to the Notes is appended to this 

' Many of them were discovei-ed by Dr. KOppell. 


At p. xxiv of vol. iv, a list of Errata is griven, many of which are of slight 
importance. Much use of this volume, for the purpose of illustration, has 
brought to my notice a few more Errata, six of which, here marked with 
an asterisk, are worth special notice. 

P. Tg. A 636. For Thanne read Than 

P. 37. A 1248. The end-stop should be only a colon. 

P. 41. A 1419. The end-stop should be only a semicolon. 

P. 138. B 295. For mocvyng read moeving 

Pp. 151, 155. B 724, 858. /"o/- Constable /rar/ constable 

* P. 165. B 1 1 78. Fur he read he 

P. 187. B 1843. The end-stop should (perhaps) be a semicolon. 

P. 232. B 2865. For haue read have 

P. 259. B 3670. The end-stop should be a comma. 

* P. 275. B 4167. /'or Than rmrf That 

* P. 348. D 955. For which nad whiclie 
P. 349. D 1009. For Plighte read Plight 
P. 384. D2152. Dele ' at beginning. 

* P. 398. E 290. MS. E has set ( = setteth, />;-. s.] ; u'hich scans better than 

sett^, as in other MSS. 
P. 409. E 656. For Left read Lefte [though the e is elided]. 

* P. 462. F 56. For Him read Hem 

P. 546. G 1224. Dele the final comma. 

* P. 608 ; end of 1. 14. /"or power or {as in E.) 7ead power of (<?s tn the rest). 
P. 620 : 11. 16, 17. Dele the cotnnias a/ffr receyven a>id folk 

VOL. V. ADDENDA, etc. 

P. 73 ; 1. lo from bottom. Dele comma after Thornton. 

P. 262; note to C 60. Cf Ayenbite of Inwyt, p. 205 : — 'Ac the greate 
metes and thet stronge wyn alighteth and norisseth lecherie, ase oyle 
other grese alighteth and strengtheth thet uer ' [i. e. the fire]. This 
passage occurs quite close to that quoted in the note to A 4406. Probably 
Chaucer took both of these from the French original of the Ayenbite. Cf. 
P- 447- 

P. 450. The note to G 1171 has been accidentally omitted, but is important. 
The reading should here be tervcd, not tormd; and again, in G 1274, read 
ierve, not torue. The Ellesmere MS. is really right in both places, though 
terued appears as tamd in the Six-text edition. These readings are duly 
noted in the Errata to vol. iv, at p. xxvi. The verb ierve means ' to strip/ or 
'to roll back' the edge of a cuff or the like. The Bremen Worterbuch 
has: ' nm farven, up tarven, den Rand von einem Kleidungstiicke umschlagen, 
das innerste auswarts kehren.' Hence read tiniedcn in Havelok, 603 ; 
tenien of in the Wars of Alexander, 4114 ; iynie in Allit. Poems, ed. Morris, 
B. 630; and tyrnen in Gawain and the Grene Knight, 1921. 




N.B. The spellings between marks of parenthesis indicate the pronunciation, 
according to the scheme given in the Introduction. 

References to other lines in the Canterbury Tales are denoted by the Group 
and line. Thus 'B. 134' means Group B, 1. 134, i.e. the first line in the 
Man of Lawes Tale. 

Notes taken from editions by Tyrwhitt, Wright, Bell, and Morris, are 
usually marked accordingly; sometimes T. denotes Tyrwhitt, and M., Morris. 

1. In the Man of Law's Prologue, B. 1-6, there is definite mention of 
the i8th day of April. The reference is, in that passage, to the second 
day of the pilgrimage. Consequently, the allusion in 11. 19-23 below 
is to April 16, and in 1. 822 to April 17. The year may be supposed 
to be 1387 (vol. iii. p. 373). 

' When that April, with his sweet showers.' Aprille is here 
masculine, like Lat. Aprilis ; cf. 1. 5. 

shoiires (shuu'rez), showers ; pi. of shour, A. S. scilr (skuur). The 
etymology of all words of this character, which are still in use, can be 
found by looking out the modem form of the word in my Etymological 
Dictionary. I need not repeat such information here. 

sole, sweet, is another form of swete, which occurs just below in 
1. 5. The e is not, in this case, the mark of the plural, as the forms 
sote, swete are dissyllabic, and take a final e in the singular also. Sote 
is a less correct form of swote ; and the variation between the long o 
in s%vote and the long e in sweie is due to confusion between the 
adverbial and adjectival uses. Swote corresponds to A. S. swdt, adv., 
sweetly, and swete to A. S. swete., adj., sweet. The latter exhibits 
mutation of ^ to e\ cf. mod. '^. goose, p\. geese (A. S. gos, pi. ges). 

In this Introduction, Chaucer seems to have had in his mind the 


passage which begins Book IV. of Guido delle Colonne's HistoriaTroiae, 
which is as follows : — 'Tempus erat quo sol maturans sub obliquo zodiaci 
circulo cursum suum sub signo iam intrauerat Arietis , . . celebratur 
equinoxium primi veris, tunc cum incipit tempus blandiri mortalibus 
in aeris serenitate intentis, tunc cum dissolutis ymbribus Zephiri 
flantes molliciter (m) crispant aquas . . . tunc cum ad summitates 
arborum et ramorum humiditates ex terre gremio examplantes ex- 
tollunt in eis ; quare insultant scmina, crescunt segetes, virent prata, 
variorum colorum floribus illusti'ata . . . tunc cum ornatur terra 
graminibus, cantant volucres, et in dulcis armonie modulamine 
citharizant. Tunc quasi medium mensis Aprilis effluxerat ' ; &c. 

We may also note the passage in Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum 
Natiirale, lib. xv. c. 66, entitled De Vere: — ' Sol vero ad radices her- 
barum et arborum penetrans, humorem quem ibi coadunatum hyeme 
reperit, attrahit ; herba vero, vel arbor suam inanitionem sentiens a 
terra attrahit humorem, quem ibi sui similitudine adiuuante calore Solis 
transmutat, sicque reuiuiscit ; inde est quod quidam mensis huius 
temporis Aprilis dicitur, quia tunc terra praedicto modo aperitur.' 

2. droght-e, ^x^nt%%\ P^.S.dnlgathe\ essentially dissyllabic, but the 
final e is elided. Pron. (druuht'). perced, pierced, rot-e, dat. of root, 
a root ; Icel. rdt\ written for rooie. The double o is not required to 
shew vowel-length, when a single consonant and an e follow. 

4. vertu, efficacy, productive agency, vital energy. 'And bathed 
every vein (of the tree or herb) in such moisture, by means of which 
quickening power the flower is generated.' Pron. (vertii'). 

5. Zephirus, the zephyr, or west wind. Cf. Chaucer's Book of the 
Duchess, 1. 402, and the note. There are two more references to 
Zephirus in the translation of Boethius, bk. i. met. 5 ; bk. ii. met. 3. 

6. holt, wood, grove ; A. S. holt ; cf. G. Holz. 

7. croppes, shoots, extremities of branches, especially towards the top 
of a tree; hence simply tree-tops, tops of plants, (Sec. Hence to crop is 
'to cut the tops ofT.' Cf. A. 1532 ; tr. of Boethius, bk. iii. met. 2. 24 ; 
Rom. Rose, 1396; and note to P. Plowman, B. xvi. 69. 

yonge sonne (yungga sunna) ; see the next note. The -e in yong-e 
denotes the definite form of the article. Sonn-e, A.{nna, is essen- 
tially dissyllabic. 

8. the Ram. The difficulty here really resides in the expression ' his 
halfe cours,' which means what it says, viz. ' his half-course,' and not, as 
Tyrwhitt unfortunately supposed, ' half his course.' The results of the 
two explanations are quite different. Taking Chaucer's own expression 
as it stands, he tells us that, a little past the middle of April, ' the 
young sun has run his half-course in the Ram.' Turning to Fig. i in 
The Astrolabe (see vol. iii.), we see that, against the month ' Aprilis,' 
there appears in the circle of zodiacal signs, the latter half (roughly 
speaking) of Aries, and the/frw^r half of Taurus. Thus the sun in 
April runs a half-course in the Ram and a half-course in the Bull. 
' The former of these was completed,' says the poet ; which is as much 

Ll.i-14.] THE PROLOGUE. 3 

as to say, that it ivas past the eleventh of April \ for, in Chaucer's time, 
the sun entered Aries on March 12, and left that sign on April 11. See 
note to I. I. 


April. May, 




The sun had, in fact, only just completed his course through the first 
of the twelve signs, as the said course was supposed to begin at the 
vernal equinox. This is why it is called 'the yonge sonne,' an ex- 
pression which Chaucer repeats under similar circumstances in the 
Squyeres Tale, F. 385. Y-ronne, for X.S.gerunueny pp. oi rimian,\.o 
run (M. E. rinnen^ rinne). The M.E. _y-, A. S. ^^-j is a mere prefix, 
mostly used with past participles. 

9. Pron. (and smaaia fuu'lez maa'ken melodii'a) ; ' and little birds 
make melody.* Qi.fowel (fuulj, a bird, in 1. 190. 

10. open ye, open eye. Cf. the modem expression ' with one eye 
open.' This line is copied in the Sowdone of Babylon, 11. 41-46. 

11. 'So nature excites them, in their feelings (instincts).' hir, their ; 

A. S. hira, lit. ' of them,' gen. pi. of he, he. corage (kuraaja) ; mod. E. 
courage ; see 1. 22. 

12. 13. According to ordinary English construction, the verb longen 
must be supplied zii^r palmers. In fact, 1. 13 is parenthetical. Note 
that Than, in 1. 1 2, answers to Whan in 1. I. 

13. pabner, originally, one who made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land 
and brought home a /a//«-branch as a token. Chaucer, says Tyrwhitt, 
seems to consider all pilgrims to foreign parts as palmers. The 
essential difference between the two classes of persons here mentioned, 
the palmer and the pilgrim, was, that the latter had * some dwelling- 
place, a palmer had none ; the pilgrim travelled to some certain place, 
the palmer to all, and not to any one in particular ; the pilgrim might 
go at his own charge, the palmer must profess wilful poverty ; the 
pilgrim might give over his profession, the palmer must be constant'; 
Blount's Glossographia (taken from Speght). See note to P. Plowman, 

B. V. 523. 

The fact is, that palmers did not always reach the Holy Land. They 
commonly went to Rome first, where not unfrequently the Pope ' allowed 
them to wear the palm as if they had visited Palestine' ; Rock, Church 
of our Fathers, vol. iii. pt. i. p. 439. 

to seken, to seek ; the A. S. gerund, id secanne ; expressive of purpose. 
strondes, strands, shores. 

14. ferne halives, distant saints, i. e. shrines. Here/erne =ferrene = 
distant, foreign. ' To ferne poeples ' ; Chaucer's Boethius, bk. ii. met. 7. 
See Matzner's M. E. Diet. Ferne also means 'ancient,' but not here. 

halwes, saints ; cf. Scotch Hallow-e'en, the eve of All Hallows, or 
All Saints ; the word is here applied to their shrines. 

Chaucer has, ' to go seken halwes,' to go (on a pilgrimage) to. seek 

B 2 


saints' shrines ; D. 657. couthe (kuudh'), well known ; A. S. <r7?3, known, 
pp. of ainnan, to know, sondry (sun'dri), various. 

16. ivende, go ; pret. ivente, Eng. luent. The use of the present 
tense in modern English is usually restricted to the phrase ' he wends 
his way.' 

17. The holy blisful vtartir, Thomas h. Becket. On pilgrimages, see 
Saunders, Chaucer, p. 10; and Erasmus, Peregrinatio rcligionis ergo. 
There were numerous places in England sought by pilgrims, as Dur- 
ham, St. Alban's, Bury, St. David's, Glastonbury, Lincoln, York, Peter- 
borough, Winchester, Holywell, &c. ; but the chief were Canterbury 
and Walsingham. 

18. holpcn, pp. oihelpeii. The older preterites of this verb are heolp^ 
help, halp. seke, sick, rimes to seke, seek ; this apparent repetition is only 
allowed when the repeated word is used in two different senses. 

seke, pi. oi seek, A. S. seoc, sick, ill. For he7n, see n. to 1. 175. 

19. Bifc'l, it befell, seson (saesun), time, ot a day, one day. 

20. Tabard. Of this word Speght gives the following account in his 
Glossary to Chaucer : — ' Tabard — a jaquet or sleveless coate, worne in 
times past by noblemen in the warres, but now only by heraults 
(heralds), and is called theyre "coate of armes in servise." It is the 
signe of an inne in South warke by London, within the which was the 
lodging of the Abbot of Hyde by Winchester. This is the hostelry 
where Chaucer and the other pilgrims mett together, and, with Henry 
Baily their hoste, accorded about the manner of their journey to Canter- 
bury. And whereas through time it hath bin much decayed, it is now 
by Mastery. Preston, with the Abbot's house thereto adgoyned, newly 
repaired, and with convenient rooms much encreased, for the receipt of 
many guests.' The inn is well described in Saunders (on Chaucer), 
p. 13. See also Stow, Survey of London (ed. Thoms, p. 154); 
Nares' Glossary, s. v. Tabard; Dyce's Skelton, ii. 283; Furnivall's 
Temporary Preface to Chaucer, p. 1 8. 

The tabard, however, was not sleeveless, though the sleeves, at first, 
were very short. See the plate in Boutell's Heraldry, ed. Aveling, 
p. 69 ; cf. note to P. Plowman, C. vii. 203. 

lay ; used like the modern ' lodged,' or ' was stopping.' 

23. come (kum'), short for cometi, pp. oicomen. hostelrye, a lodging, 
inn, house, residence. Hostler properly signifies the keeper of an inn, 
and not, as now, the servant of an inn who looks after the horses. 

24. wel is here used like our word///// or qtiite. 

25. by aventurey-falle, by adventure (chance) fallen (into company). 
Pron. (aventu'r'). 

2%, felatvshipe, company; from yi.'E. felawe, companion, fellow. 

27. wolden ryde, wished to ride. The latter verb is in the infinitive 
mood, as usual after will, would, shall, may, &c. 

29. esed atte teste, accommodated or entertained in the best manner. 
Easement is still used as a law term, signifying accommodation. Cf. F. 
bien aise. Pron. (aezed). 

LI. 16-47.1 THE KNIGHT. 5 

atie, i.e. at the, was shortened from aite7t, masc. and neut., from 
A. S. at thdm. We also find M. E. atter^ fern., from A. S. cet ihccrc. 

30. to rcste, i. e. gone to rest, set. 

31. everichon, for cver-ich oon, every one, lit. ever each one. 

32. of hirfelawshipe^ (one) of their company. 

33. forward, agreement. ' Fals was \\&x&f 'reward ■s>o forst is in May,' 
i. e. their agreement was as false as a frost in May ; Ritson's Ancient 
Songs, i. 30. A. S.fore-'UJ€a7d, lit. 'fore ward,' a precaution, agreement. 

34. titer as I yow deiiyse, to that place that I tell you of (so. Canter- 
bury); iher in M. E. frequently signifies ' where,' and ther as signifies 
' where that.' de7'yse, speak of, describe ; lit. ' devise.' 

35. tiaiheles, nevertheless ; lit. ' no the less ' ; cf. A. S. nCi, no. 
•why!, whilst. The form in -cs {whiles, the reading of some MSS.) is 
a comparatively modern adverbial form, and may be compared with 
M. E. hennes, ihennes, hence, thence ; ones, twyes, t/tryes, once, twice, 
thrice ; of which older forms are found in -enne and -e respectively. 

37. * It seemeth to me it is reasonable.' 

Me thinketh = me thinks, where me is the dative before the impersonal 
vb. thinketi, to appear, seem ; cp. me likeih, me list, it pleases me. So 
the phrase ifyoupleajc = \i \\. please you, you being the dative and not 
the nominative case, seined me='\t. seemed to mc, occurs in 1. 39. The 
personal verb is properly thenken, as in the Clerkes Tale, E. 116,641 ; 
or thenchen, as in A. 3253. 

accordautit, accordant, suitable, agreeable (to). 

40. whiche, what sort of men ; Lat. qualis. 

41. inne. In M. E., in is the preposition, and inne the adverb. 

The Knight. 

43. Knight. It was a common thing in this age for knights to seek 
employment in foreign countries which were at war. Cf. Book of the 
Duchesse, 1024, and my note. Tyrwhitt cites from Leland's Itinerary, 
v. iii. p. cxi., the epitaph of a knight of this period, Matthew de Goumey, 
who had been at the battle of Benamarj'n, at the siege of Algezir, and 
at the Battles of Crecy, Poitiers, &c. See note to 1. 51. 

zuorthy, worthy, is here used in its literal signification of distinguished, 
honourable. See 11. 47, 50. Pron. (wur"dhij. 

For notes on the dresses, &c. of the pilgrims, see Todd's Illustra- 
tions of Chaucer, p. 227 ; Fairholt's Costume in England, 18S5, i. 129; 
and Saunders, on the Canterbury Tales, where some of the MS. drawings 
are reproduced. Also Warton, Hist. Eng. Poetry, sect. 17. 

45. chivalrye (chivalriia), knighthood ; also the manners, exercises, 
and exploits of a knight. 

47. in his lordes werre, i.e. in the king's service. 'The knight, by 
his tenure, was obliged to serve the king on horseback in his wars, and 
maintain a soldier at his own proper charge,' &c. ; Strutt, Manners and 
Customs, iii. 15. werre, war. 


48. iherto, moreover, besides that ; see 1. 1 53 below, fcrre, the comp. 
oi/cr, far. Cf. M. E. dcrre, dearer (A. 1448) ; sarre, sorer, &c. 

49. hcthotcsse, heathen lands, as distinguished from Crisiendom, 
Christian countries. The same distinction occurs in English Gilds, ed. 
Toulmin Smith, p. 36, 1. i. 

50. Pron. (and ae'vr onuuTed for iz wurdhines'sD\ 

51. Alisaundre, in Egypt, 'was won, and immediately after aban- 
doned in 1365, by Pierre de Lusignan, King of Cyprus'; Tyrwhitt. 
Froissart (Chron. bk. iii. c. 22) gives the epitaph of Pierre de Lusignan, 
king of Cyprus, who ' conquered in battle . . the cities of Alexandria in 
Egypt, Tripoli in Syria, Layas in Armenia, Satalia in Turkey, with 
several other cities and towns, from the enemies of the faith of Jesus 
Christ ' ; tr. by Johnes, vol. ii. p. 138. ' To this I may add, from " Les 
Tombeaux dcs Chevaliers du noble Ordre de la Toison d'Or," the 
exploits recorded on a monument also of a French knight, who lived 
in Chaucer's age, and died in 1449, Jean, Seigneur de Roubais, &c. 
"qui en son temps visita les Saints lieux de Jerusalem, . . . S. lacques 
en Galice, . . . et passa les perils mortels de plusieurs batailles arrestees 
contre les Infidels, c'est a s^avoir en Hongrie et Barbarie, ... en Prusse 
centre les Letaux, . . . avec plusieurs autres faicts exercice d'armcs tant 
par mer que par terre,"' &:c. — Todd, Illust. of Ch., p. 237. ivonne 
(wunna), won, 

52. he Jiadde the hordbigonne. Here hoi'd = board, table, so that the 
phrase signifies ' he had been placed at the head of the dais, or table of 
state.' Wart on, in his Hist, of Eng. Poetry, ed. 1840, ii. 209 (ed. 1 87 1, 
ii. 373), aptly cites a passage from Cower which is quite explicit as to 
the sense of the phrase. See Cower, Conf. Amantis, bk. viii. ed. Pauli, 
iii. 299. We there read that a knight was honoured by a king, by being 
set at the head of the middle table in the hall. 

' And he, ivhich had his prise deserved^ 
After the kinges owne word. 
Was maad begintie a iniddel bord.' 

The context shews that this was at supper-time, and that the knight 
was placed in this honourable position by the marshal of the hall. 

Further illustrations are also given by Warton, ed. 1840, i. 174, 
footnote, shewing that the phrases began the dese (dais) and began the 
table were also in use, with the same sense. I can add another clear 
instance from Sir Beves of Hamptoun, ed. Kolbing, E. E. T. S., p. 104, 
where we find in one text (1. 2122) — 

' Thow schelt this dai be priour. 
And beginne oure deis' \dais\ ; 

where another text has (1. 1957) the reading — 

' Palmer, thou semest best to me, 
Therfore men shal worshyp the ; 
Begyn the borde, I the pray.' 

LI. 48-58.] THE KNIGHT. 7 

See also the New Eng. Dictionary, s. v. Board] Hartshome's Metrical 
Talcs, pp. 72, 73, 215, 219; Early Popular Poctr}', ed. Hazlitt, i. 104; 
Todd's Illustrations, p. 322. Even in Stow's Survey of London, ed. 
Thorns, p. 144, col. 2, we read how — ' On the north side of the hall 
certain aldermen began the board, and then followed merchants of 
the cit}'.' 

Another explanation is sometimes given, but it is wholly wrong. 

53, 54. Pruce. When our English knights wanted employment, ' it 
was usual for them to go and serve in Pruce, or Prussia, with the 
knights of the Teutonic order, who were in a state of constant warfare 
with their heathen neighbours in Letfow (Lithuania), Ruce (Russia), and 
elsewhere.'— Tyrwhitt. Cf. Gower, Conf. Amant. ii. 56. 

The larger part of Lithuania now belongs to Russia, and the 
remainder to Prussia ; but in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries 
the natives long maintained their independence against the Russians 
and Poles (Haydn, Diet, of Dates). 

reysed, made a military expedition. The O. F. reisf, sb., a military 
expedition, was in common use on the continent at that time. Numerous 
examples of its use are given in Godefroy's O. F. Diet. It was borrowed 
from O. H. G. reisa (G. Reise), an expedition. Pron. (reized). 

Warton, Hist. Eng. Poetry, ed. 1840, ii. 210, remarks— 'Thomas 
dukeof Gloucester, youngest son of Edw. Ill, and Henry earl of Derby, 
afterwards Henry IV, travelled into Prussia ; and, in conjunction with 
the grand Masters and Knights of Prussia and Livonia, fought the 
infidels of Lithuania. Lord Derby was greatly instrumental in taking 
Vilna, the capital of that country, in the year 1390. Here is a seeming 
compliment to some of these expeditions.' Cf. Walsingham, Hist., 
ed. Riley, ii. 197. Hackluyt, in his Voyages, ed. 1598, i. 122, cites and 
translates the passage from Walsingham referred to above. However, 
the present passage was written before 1390 ; see n. to 1. 277. 

In an explanation of the drawings in MS. Jul. E. 4, relating to the 
life of Rd. Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (born 1381, died 1439), I 
find — • Here shewes how erle Richard from Venise took his wey to 
Russy, Lettoiv, and Velyn, and Cypruse, Westvale, and other coostes 
of Almayn toward Englond.' — iStrutt, Manners and Customs. 

56-8. Cermide, Granada. 'The city of Algezir was taken from the 
Moorish King of Granada in 1 344.' — T. The earls of Derby and 
Salisbury assisted at the siege ; Weber, Met. Rom. iii. 306. It is the 
modern Algeciras on the S. coast of Spain, near Cape Trafalgar. 

Bdniarye and Trajmssene (Tremezem, 1. 62, were Moorish king- 
doms in Africa, as appears from a passage in Froissart (bk. iv. c. 24J 
cited by Tyrwhitt. Johnes' translation has — ' Tunis, Eugia, Morocco, 
Benmarin, Tremegen.' Cf. Kn. Tale, 1. 1772 (A. 2630). Benmarin is 
called Balineryne in Barbour's Bruce, xx. 393, and Bslmore in the Sow- 
done of Babylon, 3122. The Gulf of Tremezen is on the coast of 
Algiers, to the west. 

Lyeys, in Armenia, was taken from the Turks by Pierre de Lusignan 


about 1367. It is the Layas mentioned by Froissart (see note to 1. 51) 
and the modern Ayas ; see the description of it in Marco Polo, cd. 
Yule, i. 15. Cf. 'Laiazzo's gulf,' Hoole's tr, of Ariosto's Orlando; 
bk. xix. 1. 389. 

Satalye (Attalia, now Adalia, on the S. coast of Asia Minor) was 
taken by the same prince soon after 1352. — T. See Acts xiv. 25. 

Palatye (Palathia, see 1. 65), in Anatolia, was one of the lordships 
held by Christian knights after the Turkish conquest. — T. Cf. Frois- 
sart, bk. iii. c. 23. 

69. the Crete See. The Great Sea denotes the Mediterranean, as 
distinguished from the two so-called inland seas, the Sea of Tiberias 
and the Dead Sea. So in Numb, xxxiv. 6, 7 ; Josh. i. 4 ; also in 
Mandevile's Travels, c. 7. 

60. atyve, arrival or disembarkation of troops, as in the Harleian and 
Cambridge MSS. Many MSS. have artnee, army, which gives no good 
sense, and probably arose from misreading the spelling ariue as arnte. 
Perhaps the following use of rive for ' shore ' may serve to illustrate 
this passage : — 

'The wind was good, they saileth blive, 
Till he took land upon the rive 
Of Tire,' &c. 

Gower, Conf. Amant. ed. Pauli, iii. 292. 

be = ten, been. Q(. ydo —ydon, done, (Sec. 

62. foghten (f9uhten), pp. fought ; from the strong \^xhJighteH. 

63. ' He had fought thrice in the lists in defence of our faith ' ; i. e, 
when challenged by an infidel to do so. Such combats were not 
uncommon, j/^jw, slain. A<7^/</^ must be supplied from 1. 61. 

64. ilkey same ; A. S. ylca. 

65. Somtyvie, once on a time ; not our ' sometimes.' See 1. 85. 

66. another hethen, a heathen army different from that which he had 
encountered at Tremezen. 

67. sovereyn ptys (suvrein priis), exceeding great renown. 

69. * As courteys as any mayde ' ; Arthur, ed. Fumivall (E. E. T. 5.), 
I. 41. Cf. B. 1636. 

70. vilet'nye, any utterance unbecoming a gentleman. Cf. Trench, 
English Past and Present, ch. 7, on the word villain. 

71. «^ wa«^r w/V/z/, no kind of person whatever. In M. E. the word 
maner is used without of^ in phrases of this character. 

72. verray, very, true, parjit, perfect ; F. par/ait. gentil, gentle ; 
see D. 1109-1176. 

74. ' His horses were good, but he himself was not gaudily dressed.' 
Hors is plural as well as singular. In fact, the knight had three horses ; 
one for himself, one for his son, and one for the yeoman. Perhaps we 
should read— 'but h^ ne was not gay,' supplying ne from HI. and Hn. 
This makes he emphatic ; and we may then treat the e in god-e as 
a light extra syllable, at the caesural pause ; for doing which there 
is ample authority. 

LI. 59-80.] THE SQUYER. 9 

75. fustian ; see Babees Book, ed. Fumivall, p. 224. giponn (jipuu'n), 
a diminutive ol gipe, a tight-fitting vest, a doublet ; also called z. gipcU, 
as in Libeaus Disconus, 224. See Fairholt, s. v. fustian, and s. v. 
gipon. The O. F. gipe (whence F. jupe) meant a kind of frock or 
jacket, ivcred is the A. S. ivcrede, pt. t. of the weak verb werian, to 
wear. It is now strong; ^X.^.iL'ore. Seel. 564. 

76. This verse is defective in the first foot, which consists solely of 
the word Al. Such verses are by no means uncommon in the Cant. 
Tales and in the Leg. of Good Women. Pron. (al* bismufcrd widhiz 
ha'berjuu'n). ' His doublet of fustian was all soiled with marks made 
by the habergeon which he had so lately worn over it.' Bismotered has 
the same sense as mod. E. besmutted. 

habergeoun, though etymologically a diminutive oi hauberk, is often 
used as synonymous with it. ' It was a defence of an inferior descrip- 
tion to the hauberk ; but when the introduction of plate-armour, in 
the reign of Edward III, had supplied more convenient and effectual 
defences for the legs and thighs, the long skirt of the hauberk became 
superfluous ; from that period the habergeoti alone appears to have 
been worn.' — Way, note to Promptorium Parvulorum, p. 220. 

* And Tideus, above his Habergeoun, 
A gipoun hadde, hidous, sharpe, and hoor, 
Wrought of the bristles of a wilde Boor.' 

Lydgate, Siege of Thebes, pt. ii. 

See the Glossary to Fairholt's Costume in England, s. v. Habergeon ; 
and, for the explanation of gipoun, see the same, under gipon and 
gambeson. For a picture of a gipoun, see Boutell's Heraldry, cd. 
Aveling, p. 67. 

11,1^. 'For he had just returned from his journey, and went to 
perform his pilgrimage ' (which he had vowed for a safe return) in his 
knightly array, only without his habergeon. 

The Squyer. 

79. J7KK^r= esquire, one who attended on a knight, and bore his 
lance and shield. See Strutt, Sports and Pastimes, Introd. § 8. 
* Esquires held land by the service of the shield, and were bound by 
their fee to attend the king, or their lords, in the war, or pay escuage.' 
— Strutt, Manners and Customs, iii. 15. And see Ritson, Met. 
Romances, iii. 345. 

As to the education and accomplishments of a squire, see note to 
Sir Topas, B. 1927. 

80. lovyere, lover. The y in this word is not euphonic as in some 
modem words ; lovyere (luvyer) is formed from the verb lovi-en, 
A. S. lufian, to love. 

bacheler, a young aspirant to knighthood. There were bachelors 
in arms as well as in arts. Cf. The Sowdone of Babylone, 121 1. 


81. lokkes, locks (of hair), crulle (krull'), curly, curled ; cf. Mid. 
Du. krul, a curl. In mod. E., the r has shifted its place. In King 
Alisaunder, ed. Weber, 4164, we find — ' And his lokkes buth noght so 
crolle.' as they, &c., as if they had been laid in an instrument for 
curling them by pressure. Curling-tongs seem to be meant ; or. pos- 
sibly, curling-papers. For presse, cf. 1. 263. 

82. yeer. In the older stages of the language, year, goat, swine, &c., 
being neuter nouns, underwent no change in the nom. case of the plural 
number. We have already had hors, pi., in 1. 74. 

J gesse, I should think. In "^l.Y.., gesse signifies to judge, believe, 
suppose, imagine. See Kn. Tale, 1. 192 (A. 1050). 

83. ofevene lengthe, of ordinary or moderate height. 

84. deliver, active. Cotgrave gives : ' delivre de sa personne^ an 
active, nimble wight.' 

85. chivachye. Fr. chevauchee. ' It most properly means an expedi- 
tion with a small party oi cavalry, but is often used generally for any 
military expedition.' — T. We should call it a * raid.' Cf. H. 50. 

87. born him wel, conducted himself well (behaved bravely), consider- 
ing the short time he had served. 

88. lady grace, lady's grace. Here lady represents A. S. hlcefdigan, 
gen. case of hlcefdige, lady ; there is therefore no final s. See 1. 695, 
and G. 1348. Cf. the modem phrase 'Lady-day,' as compared with 
* Lord's day.' 

89. ' That was with floures swote enbrouded al ' ; Prol. to Legend of 
Good Women, 1. 119; and cf. Rom. Rose, 896-8. Embrouded (tm- 
bruu'ded or embr^u^ded), embroidered ; from O. F. brouder, variant 
of broder, to embroider ; confused with A. S. brogden, pp. of bregdan, 
to braid, mede, mead, meadow. 

^l.floy tinge, playing the flute. Ci.Jloute (ed. 1532, floyte)^ a flute ; 
Ho. of Fame, 1223. Hexham gives Du. ' Fluyte, a Flute.' 

96. 'Joust (in a tournament) and dance, and draw well and write.' 

97. hote, adv. hotly ; from hoot, adj. hot, nightertale, night-time, 
time (or reckoning) of night. So also wit nighter-tale, lit. with 
night-time, Cursor Mundi, 1. 2783 ; on nightertale, id. 2991 ; be [by] 
nychtyrtale, Barbour's Bruce, xix. 495. The word is used by Holinshed 
in his account of Joan of Arc (under the date 1429), but altered in the 
later edition to ' the dead of the night ' ; it also occurs in Palladius on 
Husbandry, ed. Lodge, bk. i. 1. 910 ; and in The Court of Love, I. 1355. 
Cf. Icel. nditar-tal, a tale, or number, of nights ; and the phrase 
d ndttar-peli, at dead of night. 

98. sleep, also written slep, slepte. Cf. weep, wepte ; leep, lepte, S:c. ; 
such verbs, once strong, became weak. See 1. 148; and Kn. Ta. 
1829 (A. 26S7). 

100. car/, the past tense of kerven, to carve (pp. corven). The allu- 
sion is to what was then a common custom; cf. E. 1 773; Barbour's 
Bruce, i. 356. biforn, before ; A. S. biforan. 

LI.8I-I04.1 THE YEMAN. ii 

The Yeman. 

101. Yevian, yeoman. * As a title of service, it denoted a servant of 
the next degree above a.garson or groom .... The title oi yeoman was 
given in a secondary sense to people of middling rank not in ser^'ice. 
The appropriation of the word to signify a small landholder is more 
modem.' — Tyrwhitt. In ed. 1532, this paragraph is headed — 'The 
Squyers yoman,' so that Ite (in this line) means the Squire, as we 
should naturally suppose from the context. Tyrwhitt, indeed, objects 
that ' Chaucer would never have given the son an attendant, when the 
father had none' ; but he overlooks the fact that both the squire and 
the squire's man were necessarily servants to the knight, who, in this 
way, really had i'u'o servants ; just as, in the note to 1. 74, I have shewn 
that he had three horses. Warton, Strutt, and Todd all take this view 
of the matter, as might be expected. For further information as to 
the status of a yeoman, see Blackstone ; Spclman's Glossary, s. v. 
Socman; Strutt, Manners and Customs, iii. 16; the Glossary to the 
Habees Book, ed. Furnivall ; Waterhous, Comment, on Fortescue's 
De Laudibus Legum Anglia:, ed. 1663, p. 391 ; &c. 

na-mo, no more (in number). In M. E., vto relates to number, but 
tnore to size ; usually, but not always ; see 1. 808. 

102. hitn liste, it pleased him. liste is the past tense ; lisl, it plcaseth, 
is the present. See note on 1. 37. 

103. Archers were usually clad in * Lincoln green ' ; cf. D. 13S2. 

104. a s/iee/o/fecok-at-^wes, a sheaf of arrows with peacocks' feathers. 
Ascham, in his Toxophilus, ed. Arber, p. 129, does not say much in 
favour of ' pecock fethers ' ; for ' there is no fether but onely of a goose 
that hath all commodities in it. And trewelye at a short but, which 
some man doth vse, the pecock feiher doth seldome kepe vp the shaft 
cyther rj'ght or level, it is so roughe and heuy, so that many men which 
haue taken them vp for gaynesse, hathe layde them downe agayne for 
profyte ; thus for our purpose, the goose is best fether for the best 
shoter.' In the Geste of Robyn Hode, pr. by W. Copland, we read — 

'And every arrowe an ell longe 

With peacocke well ydight, 
And nocked they were with white silk, 

It was a semely syght.' 

' In the Liber Compotis Garderobx, sub an. 4 Edw. II., p. 53, is this 
entry — Pro duodecim flechiis cum pennis de pauone emptis pro rege 
de 12 den., that is. For twelve arrows plumed with peacock's feathers, 
bought for the king, \2d. . . . MS. Cotton, Nero c. viii.' — Strutt, Sports 
and Pastimes, bk. ii. ch. i. § 12. In the Testamenta Eboraccnsia, 
i. 419, 420 (anno 1429), I find — 'Item lego . . . j. shafife of pakok- 
fedird arrows : also I wyte them a dagger hamest with sylver.' The 
latter phrase illustrates 1. 114 below. See further in Warton's note on 
this passage ; Hist. E. Poet. 1840, ii. 211. 


106. takel, lit. * implement ' or * implements ' ; here the set of arrows. 
Yot takcl in the sense of 'arrow,' see Rom. Rose, 1729, 1863. 'He 
knew well how to arrange his shooting-gear in a yeomanlike manner.' 
Strutt, Sports and Pastimes, bk. ii. c. I. § 16, quotes a ballad in which 
Robin Hood proposes that each man who misses the mark shall lose 
'his iakelV\ and one of the losers says — * Syr abbot, I deliver thee 
myne arroive.^ Fairholt is. v. Tackle) quotes from A Lytell Geste of 
Robyn Hood— 

' When they had theyr bowes ibent, 
Their iacles fedred fre.' 

In the Cursor Mundi, 1. 3600, Isaac sends Esau to hunt, saying : — * Ga 
lok thi tacle be puruaid.' Cotgrave gives — * Tacle, m. any (headed) 
shaft, or boult whose feathers be not waxed, but glued on.' Roquefort 
says the same. 

107. The sense is — ' His arrows did not present a draggled appear- 
ance owing to the feathers being crushed'; i.e. the feathers stood out 
erect and regularly, as necessary to secure for them a good flight. 

109. not-hecd, a head closely cut or cropped. Cf. * To A^otie his haire, 
comas recidere^ \ Baret's Alvearie, 1580. Shakespeare has not-pated, 
i.e. crop-headed, i Henry IV, ii. 4. 78. Cooper's Thesaurus, 1565, has:— 

* Tondere, to cause his heare to be notted or polled of a harbour ' ; also, 

* to noiie his heare shorte ' ; also, * Tonsiis homo, a man rounded, polled, 
or notted} Cotgrave explains the F. tonsure as ' a sheering, clipping, 
powling, notting, cutting, or paring round.' Florio, ed. 1598, explains 
Ital. zucconare as ' to poule, to nott, to shave, or cut off one's haire,' and 
zuccone as ' a shauen pate, a 7iotted poule.' And more illustrations 
might be adduced, as e. g. the explanation of Nott-pated in Nares' 
Glossary. In later days the name of Roundhead came into use for 
a like reason. Cf. 'your not t- headed conntry gentleman'; Chapman, 
The Widow's Tears, Act i. sc. 4. 

110. ' He understood well all the usage of woodcraft.' 

111. bracer, a guard for the arm used by archers to prevent the 
friction of the bow-string on the coat. It was made like a glove with 
a long leathern top, covering the fore-arm (Fairholt). See it described 
m Ascham's Toxophilus, ed. Arber, pp. 107, 108. Cf. E. brace. 

112. For a description of ' sword and buckler play,' see Strutt's Sports 
and Pastimes, bk. iii. c. 6. § 22 ; Brand, Pop. Antiquities, ed. Ellis, ii. 

114. Harneised, equipped. *A certain girdle, harnessed w'x'Cn. silver' 
is spoken of in Riley's Memorials of London, p. 399, with reference to 
the year 1376; cf. Riley's tr. of Liber Albus, p. 521. ' De j daggar 
harnisiat' xr/.' ; (1439) York W'ills, iii. 96. * De vj paribus cultellorum 
harnesiat' cum auricalco. xvjV.'; ibid. 'A dagger harnest with 
sylver' ; id. i. 419. And see note to 1. 104. 

115. Christofre. *A figure of St. Christopher, used as a brooch. . . . 
The figure of St. Christopher was looked upon with particular reverence 

L1.I06-I20.] THE PRIORESSE. 13 

among the middle and lower classes ; and was supposed to possess the 
power of shielding the person who looked on it from hidden dangers'; 
note in Wright's Chaucer. This belief is clearly shewn by a passage 
in Wright's History of Caricature. It is of so early an origin that we 
already meet with it in Anglo-Saxon in Cockayne'sShrine, p. 77, where 
we are told that St. Christopher ' prayed God that every one who has 
any relic of him should never be condemned in his sins, and that God's 
anger should never come upon him'; and that his prayer was granted. 
There is a well-known early woodcut exhibiting one of the earliest 
specimens of block-printing, engraved at p. 123 of Chambers' Book of 
Days, vol. ii, and frequently elsewhere. The inscription beneath the 
figure of the saint runs as follows : — 

'Christofori faciem die quacunque tueris 
IlJa nempe die morte mala non morieris.' 

Hence the Yeoman wore his brooch for good luck. St. Christopher's 
day is July 25. For his legend, see Mrs. Jameson's Sacred and 
Legendary Art, ii. 48 ; &c. shetie ; see n. to 1. 160. 

116. Riley, in his Memorials of London, p. 115, explains baldric as 
* a belt passing mostly round one side of the neck, and under the oppo- 
site arm.' In 1 3 14, a baldric cost l2d. (same reference). See Spenser, 
F. Q. i. 7. 29. 

Wl./orster, forester. Hence the names Forester, Forster, and 

The Prioresse. 

118. 'A nunne, y wene a pr>'ores'; Rob. of Brunne, Hand. Synne, 

120. In this line, as in 11. 509 and 697, the word se-ynt seems to be 
dissyllabic. Six MSS. agree here ; and the seventh (Harleianj has nas 
for was^ which keeps the same rhythm. Edd. 1532, 1550, and 1561 
have the same words, omitting but. 

seynt Loy. Loy is from Eloy, i.e. St. Eligius, whose day is Dec. i ; 
see the long account of him in Butler's Lives of the Saints. He was 
a goldsmith, and master of the mint to Clotaire II., Dagobert I., and 
Clovis II. of France ; and was also bishop of Noyon. He became the 
patron saint of goldsmiths, farriers, smiths, and carters. The Lat. 
Eligiits necessarily became Eloy in O. French, and is Eloy or Lay in 
English, the latter form being the commoner. The Catholicon Angli- 
cum (a. D. 1483) gives: ' Loye, elegius {sic), nomen proprium.' Sir 
T. More, Works, ed. 1577, p. 194, says : '5/. Loy we make an horse- 
leche.' Bamaby Googe, as cited in Brand, Pop. Antiq. i. 364 (ed. 
Ellis), says : — 

* And Loye the smith doth looke to horse, and smithes of all degree, 
If they with iron meddle here, or if they goldesmithes bee.' 

There is a district called Si. Loye's in Bedford ; a Saint Loyes chapel 


near Exeter ; &c. Churchyard mentions ' swctiQ Saynct Loy' \ Siege of 
Leith, St. 50. In Lyndesay's Monarch^, bk. ii. lines 2299 and 2367, he 
is called 'sanct Eloy.^ In D. 1564, the carter prays to God and Saint 
Loy, joining the names according to a common formula ; but the 
Prioress dropped the divine name. Perhaps she invoked Si. Loy as 
being the patron saint of goldsmiths ; for she seems to have been 
a little given to a love of gold and corals ; see 11. 158-162. Warton's 
notion, that Loy was a form oi Lotus, only shews how utterly unknown, 
in his time, were the phonetic laws of Old French. 

Many more illustrations might be added ; such as — ^By St. Loy, that 
draws deep'; Nash's Lenten Stuff, ed. Hindley, p. xiv. 'God save 
her and Saint Loye' ; Jack Juggler, ed. Roxburgh Club, p. 9 ; and see 
Eligitis in the Index to the Parker Society's publications. 

We already find, in Guillaume de Machault's Confort d'Ami, near 
the end, the expression : — * Car je te jur, par saint Eloy'; Works, ed. 
1849, p. 120. 

The life of St. Eligius, as given in Alban Butler's Lives of the Saints, 
contains a curious passage, which seems worth citing : — ' St. Owen 
relates many miracles which followed his death, and informs us that 
the holy abbess, St. Aurea, who was swept off by a pestilence, . . was 
advertised of her last hour some time before it, by a comfortable vision 
of St. Eligius.^ See also Mrs. Jameson's Sacred and Legendary' Art, 
3rd ed., p. 728. 

There is, perhaps, a special propriety in selecting St. Loy for mention 
in the present instance. In an interesting letter in The Athenaum foi 
Jan. 10, 1 891, p. 54, Prof. Hales drew attention to the story about 
St. Eligius cited in Maitland's Dark Ages, pp. 83-4, ed. 1853. When 
Dagobert asked Eligius to swear upon the relics of the saints, the 
bishop refused. On being further pressed to do so, he burst into tears ; 
whereupon Dagobert exclaimed that he would believe him without an 
oath. Hence, to swear by St. Loy was to swear by one who refused to 
swear ; and the oath became (at second-hand) no oath at all. See 
Hales, Folia Literaria, p. 102. At any rate, it was a very mild one 
for those times. Cf. Amis and Amiloun, 877 : — ' Than answered that 
maiden bright. And swore " by Jesu, ful of might." ' 

12L cleped, called, named; A. S. cleopian, clypian, to call. Cf. Sir 
David Lyndesay's Monarch^, bk. iii. 1. 4663 : — 

' The seilye Nun wyll thynk gret schame 
Without scho callit be Mada7ne.' 

122. * She sang the divine service.' Here ser-vic-l is trisyllabic, with 
a secondary accent on the last syllable. 

123. Entuned, intoned, nose is the reading of the best MSS. The 
old black-letter editions read voice (wrongly). 

semely, in a seemly manner, is in some MSS. written setnily. The 
e is here to be distinctly sounded ; hertily is sometimes written for 
hertely. See 11. 136, 151. 


124. faire, adv. fairly, well, fetisly, excellently ; see 1. 157. 

125. scale, school ; here used for siyle or pronunciation. 

126. Frensh. Mr. Cutts (Scenes and Characters of the Middle 
Ages, p. 58) says very justly : — 'She spoke French correctly, though 
with an accent which savoured of the Benedictine convent at Stratford- 
le-Bow, where she had been educated, rather than of Paris.' There is 
nothing to shew that Chaucer here speaks slightingly of the French 
spoken by the Prioress, though this view is commonly adopted by 
newspaper-writers who know only this one line of Chaucer, and cannot 
forbear to use it in jest. Even Tyrwhitt and Wright have thoughtlessly 
given currency to this idea ; and it is worth remarking that Tyrwhitt's 
conclusion as to Chaucer thinking but meanly of Anglo-French, was 
derived las he tells us) from a remark in the Prologue to the Testament 
of Love, which Chaucer did not write ! But Chaucer merely states a 
fact, viz. that the Prioress spoke the usual Anglo-French of the English 
court, of the English law-courts, and of the English ecclesiastics of the 
higher rank. The poet, however, had been himself in France, and 
knew precisely the difference between the two dialects ; but he had no 
special reason for thinking more highly of the Parisian than of the 
Anglo-French. He merely states that the French which she spoke so 
'fetisly' was, naturally, such as was spoken in England. She had never 
travelled, and was therefore quite satisfied with the French which she 
had learnt at home. The language of the King of England was quite 
as good, in the esteem of Chaucer's hearers, as that of the King of 
France ; in fact, king Edward called himself king of France as well as 
of England, and king John was, at one time, merely his prisoner. 
Warton's note on the line is quite sane. He shews that queen Philippa 
wrote business letters in French (doubtless Anglo-French) with 'great 
propriety.* What Mr. Wright means by saying that * it was similar to 
that used at a later period in the courts of law ' is somewhat puzzling. 
It was, of course, not simitar to, but the very same language as was 
used at the very same period in the courts of law. In fact, he and 
Tyrwhitt have unconsciously given us the view entertained, not by 
Chaucer, but by unthinking readers of the present age ; a view which 
is 7tot expressed, and was probably not intended. At the modem 
Stratford we may find Parisian French inefficiently taught ; but at the 
ancient Stratford, the very important Anglo-French was taught effi- 
ciently enough. There is no parallel between the cases, nor any such 
jest as the modern journalist is never weary of, being encouraged 
by critics who ought to be more careful. The ' French of Norfolk ' 
as spoken of in P. Plowman (B. v. 239) was no French at all, but 
English ; and the alleged parallel is misleading, as the reader who 
cares to refer to that passage will easily see. 

' Stratford-at-Bow, a Benedictine nunnery, was famous even then for 
its antiquity.' — Todd, Illustrations of Chaucer, p. 233. It is said by 
Tanner to have been founded by William, bp. of London, before 1087 ; 
but Dugdale says it was founded by one Christiana de Sumery, and 


that her foundation was confirmed by King Stephen. It was dedicated 
to St. Leonard. 

u/ikncnuc, short for tmknoivcn, unknown. 

127. At mete. Tyrwhitt has acutely pointed out how Chaucer, 
throughout this passage, merely reproduces a passage in his favourite 
book, viz. Le Roman de la Rose, ed. Meon, 1. 13612, &c., which may 
be thus translated : — 'and takes good care not to wet her fingers up 
to the joints in broth, nor to have her lips anointed with soups, or 
garlic, or fat flesh, nor to heap up too many or too large morsels and 
put them in her mouth. She touches with the tips of her fingers the 
morsel which she has to moisten with the sauce (be it green, or brown, 
or yellow), and lifts her mouthful warily, so that no drop of the soup, 
or relish or pepper may fall on her breast. And so daintily she 
contrives to drink, as not to sprinkle a drop upon herself. . . she ought to 
wipe her lip so well, as not to permit any grease to stay there, at least 
upon her upper lip.* Such were the manners of the age. Cf. also 
Ovid, Ars Amatoria, iii. 755, 756. 

129. weite, wet ; pt. t. of wetten. depe, deeply, adv. 

131. Scan— 'Thdt | no drop | e ne fill | e,' &;c. The e in drdpe is 
very slight ; and the caesura follows. Fille is the pt. t. subjunctive, as 
distinct from_/f/, the pt. t. indicative. It means ' should fail.' 

132. ful, very, lest ^ list, pleasure, delight ; A. S. lyst. 

133. over, upper, adj. 'The over lippe and the nethere' ; Wright's 
Vocab. 1857, p. 146. dene (klae'na), cleanly, adv. 

134. ferthing signifies literally a fourth part, and hence a small 
portion, or a spot. InCaxton's Book of Curtesye, st. 27, such a spot 
of grease is called a 'fatte ferthyng.' 

sen-e, visible, is an adjective, A. S. gesene, and takes a final -e. This 
distinguishes it from the pp. seen, which is monosyllabic, and cannot 
rime with clen-e. The fuller form y-sen-e occurs in 1. 592, where it 
rimes with len-e. 

136. ' Full seemlily she reached towards her meat (i. e. what she had 
to eat), and certainly she was of great merriment (or geniality).' 

Mete is often used of eatables in general, raughte (rauhta), pt. t. 
of rechen, to reach. 

137. sikerJy, certainly, siker is an early adaptation of Lat. securtts, 
secure, sure, disport ; mod. E. sport. 

139-41. 'And took pains (endeavoured) to imitate courtly behaviour, 
and to be stately in her deportment, and to be esteemed worthy of 

144. sawe, should see, happened to see (subjunctive). 

146. Of, i. e. some, houndes (huundez), dogs. * Smale whelpes 
leeve to ladyse and clerkys ' ; Political, Relig. and Love Poems, ed. 
Furnivall, p. 33 ; Bemardus de Cura Rei Familiaris, ed. Lumby, p. 13. 

147. luastel-breed. Horses and dogs were not usually fed on wastel- 
breed or cake-bread (bread made of the best flour), but on coarse 
lentil bread baked for that purpose. See Our English Home, pp. 79, 80. 

LI. 137-152-] THE PRIORESSE. 


The O. F. was/el subsequently hGcame^as/e/,^i^as/eau, mod. Y.gdteau, 
cake. Cf. P. Plowman, B. vi. 217, and the note ; Riley, Memorials of 
London, p. 108. 

148. The syllable she is here very light ; s/ic if oon constitutes the 
third foot in the line. After she comes the caesural pause, iceef^ wept ; 
A. S. we op. 

149. vicn smoot, one smote. If men were the ordinary plural of 
man, smoot ought to be sf/u'/cn (pi. past) ; but meft is here used like 
the Ger. man, French 07i, with the singular verb. It is, in fact, merely 
the unaccented form of man. yerde, stick, rod ; mod. "E.yard. smerfe, 
sharply ; adv. 

1.51. li'impcl. The liumple or gorger is stated first to have appeared 
in Edward the First's reign. It was a covering for the neck, and 
was used by nuns and elderly ladies. See Fairholt's Costume, 18S5, 
ii. 413 ; Ancrcn Riwle, ed. Morton, p. 420. 

pinched, gathered in small pleats, closely pleated. 

* P>ut though I olde and horc be, sone myne, 
And poore by my clothing and aray, 
And not so wyde a gown have as is thyne. 
So small ypynched and so gay, 
My rede in happe yit the profit may.* 

Hoccleve, De Rcgimine Principum, ed. Wright, p. 15. 

152. iretys, long and well-shaped. From O. F. traitis. Low Lat. 
tractitius, i. e. drawn out; from L. irahere. Chaucer found the O. F. 
traitis in the Romaunt of the Rose, and translated it by tretys ; see 
1. 1 2 16 of the E. version. Q{. fdis lxom.factitius\ 1. 157. eyen greye. 
This seems to have been the favourite colour of ladies' eyes in Chaucer's 
time, and even later. Cf. A. 3974 ; Rom. Rose, 546, S62 ; &c. * Her 
eyen ^roy and stepe ' ; Skelton's Philip Sparowe, 1014 (see Dyce's 

'Her eyes are^m' as glass.' — Two Gent, of \'erona, iv. 4. 197. 
' Hyr forheed lely-whyht, 
Hyr bent browys blake, and hyr grey eyne, 
Hyr chyry chekes, hyr nose streyt and r)'ht, 
Hyr lyppys rody.' — Lives of Saints, Roxburgh Club, p. 14. 

* Wyth eycne graye, and browes bent, 
And yealwe traces \iresses\, and fayre y-trent, 

Ech her semede of gold ; 
Hure vysage was fair and tretys, 
Hure body iantil and -^uxe fctys, 

And semblych of stature.'— Sir Ferumbras, 1. 5881. 

'Dame Gaynour, with \\ux gray een.^ 

Three Met. Romances, ed. Robson, p. 22. 
*Hys eyen grey as crystalle stone'; — Sir Eglamour, 1. 861. 
'Put out my eyen gray' ; — Sir Launfal, 1. 810, 

* * * 


156. hardily is here used for sikerly, certainly ; so also in E. 25. 

tmdergrowe, undergrown ; i. e. of short, stinted growth. 

Ihl./etis literally signifies 'made artistically,' and hence well- 
made, /m/, neat, handsome; cf. n. to 1. 152. M.IL. feiis answers to 
O. F. faitis, fciiis, felts, neatly made, elegant ; from Lat. facii/ius, 

war, aware ; * I was ii>a?-^ = \ perceived. 

159. bedes. The word bede signifies, (i) a prayer; (2) a string of 
grains upon which the prayers were counted, or the grains themselves. 
The beads were made of coral, jet, cornelian, pearls, or gold. A fiair 
here means ' a set.' * A peire of bedis eke she bere ' ; Rom. Rose, 


'Sumtyme with a portas, sumtymc with -x payrc of bcdcs} 

Bale's King John, p. 27; Camden Soc. 
gauded al with grcne, ' having the gaivdies green. Some were of 
silver gilt.' — T. The gawdies or gaudees were the larger beads in the 
set. * One payre of beads of silver with riche gaudeys ' ; Monast. 
Anglicanum, viii. 1206 ; qu. by Rock, Church of our Fathers, iii. i. 403. 
* Unum par de le// [jet] gaudyett with sylver ' ; Nottingham Records, 
iii. 188. 'A peyre bedys of jeete \gel], gaudied with coral!'; Bury 
Wills, p. 82, 1. 16 : the note says that every eleventh bead, or gau dee, 
stood for a Paternoster : the smaller beads, each for an Ave Maria. 
The common number was 55, for 50 Aves and 5 Paternosters. The 
full number was 165, for 150 Aves and 15 Paternosters, also called 
a Rosary or Our Lady's Psalter ; see the poem on Our Lady's 
Psalter in Horstmann, Altenglische Legenden, Neue Folge, 1881, 
pp. 220-4. ' Gaudye of beedes, signeau de pater7ioster' — Palsgrave. 
Cower (Conf. Amant., ed. Pauli, iii. 372) mentions *A paire of bedes 
blacke as sable,' with 'gaudees.' See Gaiidia and Precula in Du- 
cange. Gaudee originally meant a prayer beginning with Gaiideie, 
whence the name ; see Gaudez in Cotgrave. 

160. broche— brooch, signified, (i) a pin; (2) a breast-pin; (3) 
a buckle or clasp ; (4) a jewel or ornament. It was an ornament 
common to both sexes. The brooch seems to have been made in the 

 shape of a capital A, surmounted by a crown. See the figure of 
a silver-gilt brooch in the shape of an A in the Glossary to Fairholt's, 
Costume in England. The ' crowned A ' is supposed to represent 
Amor or Charity, ihc greatest of all the Christian graces. 'Omnia 
uincit amor' ; Vergil, Eclog. x. 69. Cf. the use of AMOR as a motto 
in the Squyer of Lowe Degree, 1. 215. 

heng, also spelt heeng, hung, is the pt. t. of IVI. E. hangen, to hang. 
Cf. A. S. haig, pt. t. of hoii, to hang. 

she7ie (shee-na), showy, bright. Really allied, not to shine, but to 
sheiv. Cf. mod. E. sheen, and G. schon. 

161. write is short for wriien (wrifen), pp. of wryten (vvrii'ten), 
to write. 

LI. 156-166.] THE MONK. 19 

The Wonne and Three Preestes. 

163. Another Nonne. It was not common for Prioresses to have 
female chaplains; but Littre gives chapelaine, fern., as an old title of 
dignity in a nunnery. Moreover, it is an office still held in most 
Benedictine convents, as is fully explained in a letter written by 
a modern Nun-Chaplain, and printed in Anglia, iv. 238. See also N. 
and O. 7 S. vi. 485 ; The Academy, Aug. 23, 1890, p. 152. 

164. The mention of ///nv//7V.f/ J- presents some difficulty. To make 
up the twenty-nine mentioned in 1. 24, we only want one priest, and 
it is afterwards assumed that there was but one priest, viz. the Nonnes 
Prcest, who tells the tale of the Cock and Fo.x. Chaucer also, in all 
other cases, supposes that there was but one representative of each 

The most likely solution is that Chaucer wrote a character of the 
Second Nun, beginning — 

'Another Nonne with hir hadde she 
That was hir chapeleyne ' — 
and that, for some reason, he afterwards suppressed the description. 
The line left imperfect, as above, may have been filled up, to stop 
a gap, either by himself (temporarily), or indeed by some one else. 

If we are to keep the text (which stands alike in all MSS.), we must 
take ' wel nyne and twenty ' to mean ' at least nine and twenty.' 

The letter from the Nun-Chaplain mentioned in the last note shews 
that an Abbess might have as many 2.?, five priests, as well as a chaplain. 
See Essays on Chaucer (Ch. Soc.), p. 183. The difficulty is, merely, 
how to reconcile this line with 1. 24. 

The Monk, 

165. a fair, i. e, a fair one, Cf. ' a merye ' in 1. 208 ; and 1. 339. 
for the maistrye is equivalent to the French phrase /<?7^/- Ai maisirie, 

which in old medical books is 'applied to such medicines as we usually 
call sovereign, excellent above all others' ; Tyrwhitt. We may explain 
it by 'as regards superiority,' or, 'to shew his excellence.' Cf. 'An 
stede he gan aprikie • wcl vor the ntaistrie'' ; Rob. of Glouc. 1. 1 1554 
(or ed. Hearne, p. 553). 

In the Romance of Sir Launfal, ed. Ritson, 1. 957, is a description 
of a saddle, adorned with 'twey stones of Ynde Gay/^r the viaystrye'; 
i.e. preeminently gay. 

Several characteristics of various orders of monks are satirically 
noted in Wright's Political Songs, pp. 137-148. 

166. out-7ydere, outrider; formerly the name of an officer of 
a monastery or abbey, whose duty was to look after the manors 
belonging to it ; or, as Chaucer himself explains it, in B. 1255— 

'an officere out for to ryde 
To seen hir graunges and hir hemes wyde. 
c 2 


In the Visitations of the Diocese of Norwich, 1492-1532, ed. Jessop 
(Camden Soc), pp. 214, 279, the word occurs twice, as the name of 
an officer of the Abbey of St. IJenet's, Huhne; e.g. ' Dompnus 
Willehnus Hornyng, oute-rider, dicit quod multa edificia et orrea 
maneriorum sunt prostrata et coUapsa praesertim violentia venti hoc 

The Lat. name for this ofificer was exeqnifator, as appears from 
Wyclif, .Sermones, iii. 326 (Wychf Soc). I am indebted for these 
references and for the explanation of out-rydere to Mr. Tancock ; see 
his note in N. and Q. 7 S. vi. 425. The same vol. of Visitations also 
shews that, in the same abbey, another monk, * Thomas Stonham 
tertius prior' was devoted to hunting; 'communis vcnator . . . solet 
exire solus ad venatum mane in aurora.' There is also a complaint of 
the great number of dogs kept there — * superfluus numerus canum est 
in domo.' In the Rolls of Parliament (1406), vol. iii. p. 598, the sheriffs 
collect payments for the repair of roads and bridges ' par lour Ministres 
appeJIez Outryders'; N. and Q. 8 S. ii. 39. Note that this fully 
explains the use o{ otiiryders in P. Plowman, C. v. 116. 

veneryi-, hunting; cf. A. 2308. 'The monks of the middle ages 
were extremely attached to hunting and field-sports ; and this was 
a frequent subject of complaint with the more austere ecclesiastics, 
and of satire with the laity.'— Wright. See Strutt's Sports and 
Pastimes, bk. i. c. i. §§ 9, 10 ; Our Eng. Home, p. 23. From Lat. 
uenari, to hunt. 

168. deyniee, dainty, i.e. precious, valuable, rare; orig. a sb., viz. 
O. F. dein/ee, dignity, from Lat. ace. dignitatem. Cf. 1. 346. 

170. Gifiglen, jingle. (The line is deficient in the first foot.) 
Fashionable riders were in the habit of hanging small bells on the 
bridles and harness of their horses. Wyclif speaks of 'a worldly 
preest . . in pompe and pride, coveitise and envye . . with fatte hors, 
and jolye and gaye sadeles, and bridelis ryngynge be the weye, and 
himself in costy clothes and pelure' [fur] ; Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 519, 

In Richard Cuer de Lion, 1. 1 517, we read of a mounted messenger, 
with silk trappings — 

'With fyve hundred belles ryngande.' 
And again, at 1. 5712— 

'His crouper heeng al full off belles.' 

' Vincent of Beauvais, speaking of the Knights Templars, and their 
gorgeous horse-caparisons, says they have — in pectoralibus campanulas 
infixas magnum emittentes sonitum ' ; Hist. lib. xxx. c. 85 (cited by 
Wafton, Hist. E. P. i. 167). See B. 3984 ; and Spenser, F. Q. i. 2. 13 ; 
also Englische Studien, iii. 105. 

172, 77/^r«j= where that, /v/^r, principal, head, i.e. prior, ccl/e, 
cell; a 'cell' was a small monastery or nunner)', dependent on 
a larger one. ' Celle, a religious house, subordinate to some great 

L1.I68-I77-1 THE MONK. 21 

abby. Of these cells some were altogether subject to their respective 
abbics, who appointed their officers, and received their revenues ; 
while others consisted of a stated number of monks, who had a prior 
sent them from the abby, and who paid an annual pension as- an 
acknowledgment of their subjection ; but, in other matters, acted as 
an independent body, and received the rest of their revenues for their 
own use. These priories or cells were of the same order with the 
abbies on whom they depended. See Tanner, Pref. Not. Monast. 
p. xxvii.' — Todd, Illustrations of Chaucer, p. 326. Cf. note to 1. 670, 
and especially the note to D. 2259. 

173. The reule (rule) of scint Maure (St. Maur) and that of seint 
Bencit (St. Benet or Benedict) were the oldest forms of monastic 
discipline in the Romish Church. St. Maur (Jan. 15) was a disciple 
of St. Benet (Dec. 4), who founded the Benedictine order, and died 
about A.D. 542. 

174. Note that streit, mod. E. strait, A. F. cstreit, from Lat. strictus, 
is quite distinct from mod. E. straight, of A. S. origin. 

175. The Harl. MS. reads, 'This ilke monk leet forby hem pace' 
{error for leet hem forby him pace ?l, ' This same monk let them pass 
by him unobserved.' hem refers to the rules of St. Maur and St. Benet, 
which were too streit (strict) for this ' lord ' or superior of the house, 
who preferred a milder sort of discipline. Forby is still used in Scot- 
land for by or fast, pace, pass by, remain in abeyance ; cf. pace, pass 
on, proceed, in 1. 36. hem, them ; originally dat. pi. of he. 

176. space, course (Lat. spatium); 'and held his course in con- 
formity with the new order of things.' 

177. yaf not of gave not for, valued not. yaf is the pt. t. oi yeven 
or yiven, to give. 

a pulled hen, lit. a plucked hen; hence, the value of a hen without 
its feathers ; see 1. 652. In D. 11 12, the phrase is 'not worth a hen^ 
Tyrwhitt says, 'I do not see much force in the epithet /«//^^'; but 
adds, in his Glossary — ' I have been told since, that a hen whose 
feathers are pulled, or plucked off, will not lay any eggs.' Becon 
speaks of a ' polled hen,' i. e. pulled hen, as one unable to fly ; Works, 
p. 533; Parker Soc. It is only one of the numerous old phrases for 
expressing that a thing is of small value. See 1. 182. I may add 
that pulled, in the sense of ' plucked off the feathers,' occurs in the 
Manciple's Tale ; H. 304. And see Troil. v. 1546. 

text, remark in writing ; the word was used of any written statement 
that was frequently quoted. The allusion is to the legend of Nimrod, 
'the mighty hunter' (Gen. x. 9), which described him as a very bad 
man. ' Mikel he cuth [much he knew] o sin and scham'; Cursor 
Mundi, 1. 2202. It was he (it was said) who built the tower of Babel, 
and introduced idolatry and fire-worship. , All this has ceased to be 
familiar, and the allusion has lost its point. ' We enjoin that a priest 
be not a hunter, nor a hawker, nor a dicer ' ; Canons of King Edgar, 
translated ; no. 64. See my note to P. Plowman, C. vi. 157. 


179. rccchelees (in MS. E.) means careless, regardless of rule ; but 
*a careless monk' is not necessarily ' a monk out of his cloister.' But 
the reading cloisierless (in MS. Had.) solves the difficulty; being 
a coined 7i>ord, Chaucer goes on to explain it in 1. iSi. See the 
quotation from Jehan de Mcung in the next note. 

179-81. This passage, says Tyrwhitt, 'is attributed by Gratian 
{Decretal. P. ii. Cau. xvi. q. 1. c. viii.) to a pope Eugenius : Sictit piscis 
sine aqua caret vita, ita sine vionastej-io tnonaciiits.^ Join\-ille saj-s, 
'The Scriptures do say that a monk cannot live out of his cloister 
without falling into deadly sins, any more than a fish can live out 
of water without dying.' Cf. Piers Plowman, B. x. 292 ; and my note. 

Wyclif (Works, ed. Matthew), p. 449, has a similar remark:—' For, 
as they seyn that groundiden [founded] these cloystris, thes men 
myghten no more dwclle out ther-of than fizs myghte dwelle out 
of water, for vertu that they han ther-ynne.' The simile is very old ; 
in The Academy, Nov. 29, 1 890, Prof. Albert Cook traced it back to 
Sozomen, Eccl. Hist. bk. i. c. 13 (Migne, Patr. Graec. 67. 898J : — rovi 
fiiP yap l)(6\jas 'fKcye rqv vypav oxxriav rpecfifiv, piOva)(o1i 8e Koapov (f)(p(iv 
Ti]v fprjpov. enicrrjs re tovs p€v ^rjpas awroptvovs to ^ijv aTToKipnavdv, tovs 
8( rrjv povaaTiKijv (xepvorriTn inroWvfiv to7s aarfai npocruwrui. And in 
The Academy, Dec. 6, 1890, Mr. H. Ellcrshaw, of Durham, shewed 
that it occurs still earlier, in the Life of St. Anthony (c. 85) attributed 
to St. Athanasius, not later than A. D. 373: — coanep ot l^Ovts iyxpovl- 
(oiTes Tfi ^rjpa yjj nXevroxTLU' ovtcos 01 pova;(o). ^pahiiuovrts pfd' vpwp kuI 
nap iiplv €VStarpi/3oi^€S t'/cXOorrac. 

Moreover, the poet was thinking of a passage in Le Testament de 
Jehan de Meung, ed. Mdon, 1. 1166 : — 

* Qui les voldra trover, si les quiere en leur cloistre . . , 
Car ne prisent le munde la montance d'une oistre.' 

i. e. ' whoever would find them, let him seek them in their cloister ; for 
they do not prize the world at the value of an oyster.' Chaucer turns 
this passage just the other way about. 

182. text, remark, saying (as above, in 1. 177), /leld, esteemed. 

183. 'And /said.' This is a very realistic touch; as if Chaucer 
had been talking to the monk, obtaining his opinions, and professing 
to agree with them. 

184. IV/iat has here its earliest sense of wherefore, or why. 
wood, mad, foolish, is frequently employed by Spenser ; A. S. wod. 

186. swinken, to toil; whence '■ swi7tked hedger,' used by Milton 
(Comus, 1. 293). But swinken is, properly, a strong verb ; A. S. swin- 
can, pt. t. swanc, pp. swuticen. Hence swittk, s., toil ; 1. 188. 

187. bit, the 3rd pers. sing. pres. of bidden, to command. So also 
rit, rideth, A. 974, 981 ',fynt, findeth, A. 4071 ; rist, riseth, A. 4193 ; 
sta?it, standeth, B. 618 ; sit, sitteth, D. 1657 ; sinit, smiteth, E. 122; 
hit, hideth, F. 512. 

187, 188. Austin, St. Augustine. The reference is to St. Augustine 

LI. 179-aoo.] THE MONK. 23 

of Hippo, after whom the Augustinian Canons were named. Their 
rule was compiled from his writings. Thus we read that ' bothe monks 
and chanouns forsaken the reules of Benet and Austyn ' ; Wyciif s 
Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 511. And again — ' Seynt Austyn techith 
munkis to labore with here hondis, and so doth seint Benet and seynt 
Bernard'; Wyclifs Works, ed. IVIatthew, p. 51. See Cutts, Scenes 
and Characters, &c. ; ch. ii. and ch. iii. 

189. a pricasour, a hard rider, priking, hard riding (1. 191). 

190. Cf, 'Also fast so the fowl in flyght' ; Ywaine and Gawin, 630. 

192. /or no cost, for no expense. Dr. Morris explains/(?r «<? cost by 
' for no reason,' and certainly M.E. cost sometimes has such a force ; 
but see 11. 213, 799, where it clearly means ' e.xpense.' 

193. scigh, saw ; A. S. seah, pt. t. oi scon, to see. 

piirjiled, edged with fur. The M. E./z^/yf/ signifies the embroidered 
or furred hem of a gannent, so that ffurjilc is to work upon the edge. 
Ptirfilcd has also a more extended meaning, and is applied to garments 
overlaid with gems or other ornaments. * Pourfiler cTor, to purjle, 
tinsell, or overcast with gold thread,' &c. : Cotgrave. Spenser uses 
purjlcd in the Fairy Oueene, i. 2. 13 ; ii. 3. 26. Cf. note to P. Plowman, 
C. iii. 10. 

194. grys, a sort of costly grey fur, formerly very much esteemed ; 
O. Y. gris, Rom. de la Rose, 91 21, 9307 ; Sir Tristrem, 1. 1381. 'The 
grey is the back-fur of the northern squirrel ' ; L. Gautier, Chivalry 
(Eng. tr.), p. 323. Such a dress as is here described must have been 
very expensive. In 1231 (Close Roll, 16 Hen. 111.), king Henry III. 
had a skirt {tupa) of scarlet, furred with red gris. See Gloss, to Liber 
Custumarum, ed. Riley, s. \\ griseuin, p. 806. 

In Lydgate's Dance of Macabre, the Cardinal is made to regret — 

' That I shal never hereafter clothed be 
In grisc nor ermine, like unto viy degree! 

The Council of London (1342) reproaches the religious orders with 
wearing clothing 'fit rather for knights than for clerks, that is to say, 
short, very tight, with excessively wide sleeves, not reaching the elbows, 
but hanging down very low, lined with fur or with silk'; see J. Jusse- 
rand, English Wayfaring Life (1889). Cf. Wyciif, Works, ed. Matthew, 
p. 121. 

' This worshipful man, this dene, came rj'dynge into a good paryssh 
with a X. or xii. horses lyke a prelate' ; Caxton, Fables of ^Esop, (S:c. ; 
last fable ; cf. 1. 204 below. 

196. ' He had an elaborate brooch, made of gold, with a love-knot 
in the larger end.' love-knotte, a complicated twist, with loops. 

198. balled, bald. See Specimens of Early English, ii. 15. 408. 

199. anoint, anointed ; O. F. enoint, Lat. inioictus. 

200. in good point, in good case, imitated from the O. F. cfi bon point. 
Cotgra\e has : ' En bon poind, ou, bien en poind, handsome : faire, 
fat, well liking, in good taking.' 


201. stepe^ E. E. stcap^ docs not here mean siaiken, but bright^ 
burning, fiery. Mr, Cockayne has illustrated the use of this word in his 
Seinte Marherete, pp.9, 108 : ' His twa ehnen [semden] sicapprc j^ene 
steorrcn,' his two eyes seemed brighter than stars. So also : ' schininde 
and schenre,of jimstanes steapre then is eni steorre,' shining and clearer, 
brighter with gems than is any star; St. Katherine, 1. 1647. The ex- 
pression * eyen gray and stept',' i. e. bright, has already been quoted in 
the note to 1. 152. So also * Eyyen stepe and graye ' ; King of Tars, 
1. 15 (in Ritson, Met. Rom. ii. 157) ; and again, ' thair een steep ' ; Pal- 
ladius on Husbandry, bk. iv. 1. 800. Cf. stoned in the next line; 
and see 1. 753. 

202. stemedas aforneys of a leed, shone like the fire under a cauldron. 
Here stemed is related to the M. 'E.stem, a bright light, used in Have- 
lok, 591. Cf. ' two steviyng eyes,' two bright eyes ; Sir T. Wiat, Sat. 
i. 53. That refers to eyai^ not to heed. 

A kitchen-copper is still sometimes called a iead. As to the word leed, 
which is the same as the modern E. tead (the metal), Mr. Stevenson, 
in his edition of the Nottingham Records, iii. 493, observes — ' That 
these vessels were really made of /ead we have ample evidence ' ; and 
refers us to the Laws of /Ethelstdn, iv. 7 (Schmid, Anhang, xvi. § i) ; See. 
He adds — 'The /ead was frequently fixed, like a modern domestic 
copper, over a grate. The grate and flue were known as a furnace. 
Hence the frequent expression — a lead in furnace.^ See also led in 
Havel ok, 1. 924 ; and lead in Tusser's Husbandrie, E. D. S. 

203. botes soitple, boots pliable, soft, and close-fitting. 

' This is part of the description of a smart abbot, by an anonymous 
writer of the thirteenth century : " Ocreas habebat in cruribus quasi 
innatae essent, sine plica porrectas." — MS. Bodley, James, no. 6. 
p. 121.' — T. See Rom. of the Rose, 2265-70 (vol. i. p. 173). 

205. for-pyned, 'tormented,' and hence 'wasted away '; from pine. 
The for- is intensive, as in Eng. forswear. 

The Frere. 

208. Frere, friar. The four orders of mendicant friars mentioned in 
\. 210 were:— (l) The Dominicans, or friars-preachers, who took up 
their abode in Oxford in 1221, known as the Black Friars. (2) The 
Franciscans, founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1 209, and known by the 
name of Grey Friars. They made their first appearance in England in 
1224. (3) The Carmelites, or White Friars. (4) The Augustin (or 
Austin) Friars. The friar was popular with the mercantile classes on 
account of his varied attainments and experience. 'Who else so welcome 
at the houses of men to whom scientific skill and information, scanty as 
they might be, were yet of no inconsiderable service and attraction. He 
alone of learned and unlearned possessed some knowledge of foreign 
countries and their productions ; he alone was acquainted with the 
composition and decomposition of bodies, with the art of distillation, 

LL2oi-2ia.] THE FRERE. 25 

with the construction of machinery, and with the use of the laboratory.' 
See Professor Brewer's Preface to Monumenta P'ranciscana, p. xlv ; 
and, in particuhxr, the poem called * Pierce the Ploughman's Credc,' 
and the satirical piece against the Friars entitled Jack Upland, formerly 
printed with Chaucer's Works. Several pieces against them will also 
be found in Political Poems, ed. Wright (Record Series) ; and there 
are numerous outspoken attacks upon them in Wyclifs various works, 
as, e.g. in the Select Eng. Works, ed. Arnold, iii, 366, and in his 
Works, ed. Matthew, p. 47. See also the chapter on Friars in the E. 
translation of Jusserand, Eng. Wayfaring Life; p. 293. 

Many of the remarks concerning the Frere are ultimately due to Le 
Roman de la Rose. See The Romaunt of the Rose, 11. 6161-7698 ; in 
vol. i. pp. 234-259. 

watitown, sometimes written luantoiveii^ literally signifies untrained, 
and hence wild, brisk, lively, ivan- is a common M.E. prefix, 
equivalent to our ten- or dis-, as in zvanhopCy despair ; towcn or iotun 
occurs in M. E. writers for well-behaved, well-taught ; from A. S. togen, 
pp. of teotiy to educate. 

tiierye, pleasant ; cf. M. E. mery tuether, pleasant weather. 

209. liuiitoiir was a begging friar to whom was assigned a certain 
district or limit, within which he was permitted to solicit alms ; it was 
also his business to solicit persons to purchase a partnership, or 
brotherhood, in the merits of their conventual services. See Tyndale's 
Works, i. 212 (Parker Soc.) ; and note to P. Plowman, B. v. 138. 
Hence in later times the verb liinit signifies to beg. 

' Ther walketh now the Hiiiitour himself, 
In undermeles and in morweninges ; 
And seyth his matins and his holy thing^es 
As he goth in his limitacioun.^ 

Wife of Bath's Tale ; D. 874. 

210. ordres/oure, four orders (note to 1. 208;. can, i.e. 'knows.' 

211. daliau7ice and fair langagc, <gQ'ss\^ and flattery, daliauncem 
M. E. signifies ' tittle-tattle ' or ' gossip.' The verb dally signifies not 
only to loiter or idle, but to play, sport. Godefroy gives O. F. ' dallier, 
v. a., raillcr.' 

212. ' He had, at his own expense, well married many young 
women.' This is less generous than might appear ; for it almost 
certainly refers to young women who had been his concubines. As 
Dr. Fumivall remarks in his Temporary Preface, p. 118 — ' the true ex- 
planation lies in the following extract from a letter of Dr. Layton to 
Cromwell, in 1535 A. D., in Mr. Thos. Wright's edition of Letters on the 
Suppression of the Monasteries (Camden Soc), p. 58 : [At Maiden 
Bradley, near Bristol] "is an holy father prior, and hath but vj. chil- 
dren, and but one dowghter mariede yet of the goodes of the monasterie, 
trystyng shortly to mary the reste. His sones be tall men, waittyng 
upon him ; and he thankes Gode a never medelet with maiytt women, 


but all with madens, the faireste cowlde be gottyn, and always marede 
them ryght ivell." ' 

214. post, pillar or support, as in Troil. i. looo. See Gal. ii. 9. 

216. fnmkeleyns, wealthy farmers ; see 1. 331. over-al, everywhere. 

217. wf;7/y, probably ' wealthy '; or else, ' respectable.' Cf. 1. 68. 

219. The word vi6r-e occupies the fourth foot in the line ; cf. n. to 
1. 320. It is an adj., with the sense of greater.* 

220. Ucenliat. He had a licence from the Pope 'to hear confes- 
sions, &c., in all places, independently of the local ordinaries.' — T. 
The curate, or parish priest, could not grant absolution in all cases, 
some of which were reserved for the bishop's decision. See Wyclifs 
Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 394. 

224. wisie to Iian, knew (he was sure) to have. 

pitaunce here signifies a mess of victuals. It originally signified an 
extraordinary allowance of victuals given to monastics, in addition to 
their usual commons, and was afterwards applied to the whole allow- 
ance of food for a single person, or to a small portion of anything. 

225. 'For the giving (of gifts) to a poor order.' povre, O. Y. povre, 
poor; zl. pover-ty. Stcpov-re in 1. 232. 

226. y-shrive =--■ y-shrivcn, confessed, shriven. The final n is 
dropped ; cf. imknoiue for nnknoivcn in 1. 126. 

227. he dorste, he durst make (it his) boast, i. e. confidently assert. 
avatint, a boast, is from the O. F. vb. avanter, to boast, an intensive 

form oi 7'anter, whence E. vaunt. 

230. he may not, he is not able to. him sore smerte, it may pain 
him, or grieve him, sorely. 

232. Moi moot, one ought to. Here moot is singular ; cf. 1. 149. 

233. tipct, a loose hood, which seems to have been used as a pocket. 
* When the Order [of Franciscans] degenerated, the friar combined 
with the spiritual functions the occupation of pedlar, huxter, mounte- 
bank, and quack doctor.' (Brewer.) 'Thei [the friars] becomen 
pedderis [pedlars], berynge knyues, pursis, pynnys, and girdlis, and 
spices, and sylk, and precious pellure and forrouris \sorts 0/ fur^ for 
wymmen, and therto smale gentil hondis [dogs'\, to gete love of hem, 
and to haue many grete yiftis for litil good or nought.' — Wyclifs Works, 
ed. Matthew, p. 12. As to the tipct, cf. notes to 11. 682, 3953. 

In an old poem printed in Brewer's Monumenta Franciscana, we 
have the following allusion to the dealings of the friar : — 

* For thai have noght to lyve by, they wandren here and there, 
And dele with dyvers marche, right as thai pedlers were; 
Thei dele with pynnes and knyves. 
With gyrdles, gloves for wenches and wyves, 
Ther thai are haunted till.' 

In a poem in MS. Camb., Ff. i. 6, fol. 156, it is explained that the 
limitour craftily gives ' pynnys, gerdyllis, and knyeffis ' to wommen, 
in order to receive better things in return. He could get knives for 

LI. 314-253.] THE FRERE. 27 

less than a penny a-plece. Cf. ' De j. doss, cultellorum diet, peny- 
ware. xd. ' ; York Wills, iii. 96. 

Women used to wear knives sheathed and suspended from their 
girdles ; such knives were often gi\en to a bride. See the chapter on 
Bride-kiiivcs in Brand's Popular Antiquities. 

farsed, stuffed ; from Y.farcir. Cf. Y.. farce. 

236. rote is a kind of fiddle or 'crowd,' not a hurdy-gurdy, as it is 
explained by Ritson, and in the glossary^ to Sir Tristrem. Cf. Spenser, 
F. Q. ii. 10. 3 ; iv. 9. 6 ; Sir Degrcvant, 1. 37 (see Halliwell's note, at 
p. 289 of the Thornton Romances). See my Etym. Dictionary. 

237. yeddinges, songs embodying some popular tales or romances. 
In Sir Degrevant, 1. 1421, we are told that a lady 'song yeddyngus,' 
i.e. sang songs. For singing such songs, he was in the highest 
estimation. From A. ^. geddian, to sing. Cf. P. Plowman, A. i. 138 : — 
*Ther thou art murie at thy mete, whon me biddeth Xh&yedde.' 

prys answers both to E. prize and price ; cf. 1. 67. 
239. chaiiipioun, champion ; i.e. a professional fighter in judicial 
lists. Cf. P. Plowman, C. xxi. 104; and see Britton, liv. i. ch. 23. 


241. iappestere, a female tapster. In olden times the retailers of 

beer, and for the most part the brewers also, appear to have been 
females. The -stere or -ster as a feminine affix (though in the four- 
teenth century it is not always or regularly used as such) occurs in 
M. E. breivstercy lucbbesiere, Eng. spiiister. In huckster, maltster, 
songster, this affix has acquired the meaning of an agent ; and in 
youngster, gamester, punster, iS:c., it implies contempt. See Skeat, 
Principles of Etymology, pt. i. § 238. Cf. bcggestere, female beggar, 242. 

242. Bet, better, adv. ; as distinguished from bettre, adj. (1. 524). 
lazar, a leper ; from Lazarus, in the parable of Dives and Lazarus ; 

hence lazaretto, a hospital for lepers, a lazar-house. 
244. ' It was unsuitable, considering his ability.' 

246. ' It is not becoming, it may not advance (profit) to deal with 
(associate with) any such poor people.' Cf. Rom. of the Rose, 6455, 
6462 ; and note to P. Plowman, C. xiii. 21. 

247. The line is imperfect in the first foot. 

poraille, rabble of poor people ; from O. Y. povre, poor. 

248. riche, i. e. rich people. 

249. 250. ' And ever>'\vhere, wherever profit was likely to accrue, 
courteous he was, and humble in offering his ser\'ices.' 

251. vertuous, (probabl)-) energetic, efficient; cf. vertu in 1. 4. 

252, 253. Between these two lines the Hengwrt MS. inserts the two 
lines marked 252 b and 252 c, which are omitted in the other MSS., 
though they certainly appear to be genuine, and are found in all the 
black-letter editions, which follow Thynne. In the Six-text edition, 
which is here followed, they are not counted in. Tyrwhitt both inserts 
and numbers them ; hence a slight difference in the methods of 
numbering the lines after this line. Tyrwhitt's numbering is given, 


at every tenth line, within marks of parenthesis, for convenience of 
reference. The sense is— 'And gave a certain annual payment for the 
grant (to be licensed to beg ; in consequence of which) none of his 
brethren came with his limit.' 
ferme is the mod. ; cf. * io farm revenues.' 

253. sho, shoe ; not sou (as has been suggested), which would (in 
fact) give a false rime. So also ' worth his olde sho ' ; D. 708. 

The friars were not above receiving even the smallest articles ; and 
fcrthing, in 1. 255, may be explained by ' small article,' of a farthing's 
value. See 1. 134. 

' For had a man slayn al his kynne, 
Go shr^'ve him at a frere ; 
And for lasse then a payre of shone 
He wyl assoil him clene and sone I ' 

Polit. Poems, ed. Wright ; i. 266. 

' Ever be giving of somewhat, though it be but a cheese, or a piece 
of bacon, to the holy order of sweet St. Francis, or to any other of my 
[i. e. Antichrist's] friars, monks, canons, &c. Holy Church refuseth 
nothing, but gladly taketh whatsoever cometh.' — Becon's Acts of 
Christ and of Antichrist, vol. iii. p. 531 (Parker Society). And see 
the Somp. Tale, D. 1 746-1 751. 

254. In principio. The reference is to the text in John i. I, as 
proved by a passage from Tyndale (Works, ed. 1572, p. 271, col. 2 ; 
or iii. 61, Parker Soc.) :— 'Such is the limiter's saying of In principio 
erat verbum, from house to house.' Sir Walter Scott copies this 
phrase in The Fair Maid of Perth, ch. iii. The friars constantly 
quoted this text. 

256. ^«n7/rtj = proceeds of his begging. What he acquired in this 
way was greater than his rent or income. ' Purchase, . . any method 
of acquiring an estate otherwise than by descent ' ; Blackstone, 
Comment. I. iii. For ren/e, see 1. 373. 

We find also : * My purchas is theffect of al my rente' ; D. 1451. 
' To winne is alway myn entent, 
My purchas is better than my rent.^ 

Romaunt of the Rose, 1. 6837 ; 
where the F. original has (1. 11760)— 'Miex vaut mes porchas que 
ma rente.' 

257. as it were right (E. Hn. &c.) ; and pi eye as (HI.). The sense 
is — ' and he could romp about, exactly as if he were a puppy-dog.' 

258. love-dayes. ' Love-days {dies amoris) were days fixed for 
settling differences by umpire, without having recourse to law or 
violence. The ecclesiastics seem generally to have had the principal 
share in the management of these transactions, which, throughout the 
Vision of Piers Ploughman, appear to be censured as the means of 
hindering justice and of enriching the clerg)'.' — Wright's Vision of Piers 
Ploughman, vol. ii. p. 535. 

LI. 253-276.] THE MARCHANT. 29 

'Ac now is Religion a rydere, and a rennere aboute, 
A iedere of love-dayes^ &c. 

Piers Ploughman, A. xi. 20S, ed. Skeat ; see also note to P. PI. ed. 
Skeat, B. iii. 157. The sense is — 'he could give much help on love- 
days (by acting as umpire).' See II. 259-261. 

As to loveday, see Wyclif, Works, ed. Matthew, pp. 172, 234, 512 ; 
and the same, Works, ed. Arnold, ii. "]"] ; iii. 322 ; Paston Letters, ed. 
Gairdner, i. 496; Titus Andronicus, i. i. 491. In the Testament of 
Love, bk. i. (ed. 1561, fol. 287, col. 2) we find— 'What (quod she) . . . 
maked I not a louedaie betwene God and mankind, and chese a maide 
to be nompere \tiinpire\ to put the quarell at ende ? ' 

2G0. cope, a priest's vestment ; a cloak forming a semicircle when 
laid flat ; the semi-cope (1. 262) was a short cloak or cape. Cf. Pierce 
the Ploughman's Crede, 11. 227, 22S : — 

'His cope that biclypped him, wel clene was it folden. 
Of dotible-zvorsiedc y-dyght, doun to the hele.' 

This line is a little awkward to scan. With a ///r^</- constitutes the 
first foot ; ^Vidi povrc \% povr' (cp. mod. Y . pauvre). 

2G1. 'The kyng or the emperour myghtte with worschipe were 
a garnement of a frere for goodnesse of the cloth' ; WyclifsWorks, 
ed. Matthew, p. 50. 

2G3. rounded, assumed a round form ; used intransitively, presse, 
the mould in which a bell is cast ; cf. 1. 81. 

2G4. lipsed, lisped ; by metathesis of s and p. See footnote to 1. 273. 

for his wanio^cnesse, by way of mannerism. 

The Marcliant. 

270. a forked herd. In the time of Edward III. forked beards were 
the fashion among the franklins and bourgeoisie, according to the 
English custom before the Conquest. See Fairholt's Costume in 
England, fig. 30. 

271. In mottelee, in a motley dress ; cf 1. 32S. 

273. clasped; fastened with a clasp fairly and neatly. See 1. 124. 

274. resons, opinions, fill solenipnely, with much importance. 

275. 'Always conducing to the increase of his profit.' souninge, 
sounding like, conducing to ; cf. 1. 307. Compare—' thei chargen 
more [care more for] a litil thing that soiuneth to wynnyng of hem, than 
a myche more [greater] thing that sowneth to worchip of God ' ; 
Wyclif, Works, ed. Arnold, ii. 383. ' These indulgencis . . . done 
mykel harme to Cristen soulis, and soiunen erroure ageynes the gospel ' ; 
id., iii. 459. Cf. Chaucer's Doctour's Tale, C. 54; also P. Plowman, 
C. vii. 59, X. 216, xii. 79, xxii. 455. The M. E. sb. soicn is from F. son, 
Lat. ace. somim. 

276. were kept, should be guarded ; so that he should not suffer from 


pirates or privateers, ' The old subsidy of tonnage and poundage was 
given to the king for the safeguard and custody of the sea 12. Edvv. 
IV. c. 3.'— T. 

'The see wel kept^ it must be don for drede.' 

A Libell of English Policie, 1. 1083. 

In 1360, a commission was granted to John Gibone to proceed, with 
certain ships of the Cinque Ports, to free the sea from pirates and 
others, the enemies of the king ; Appendix E. to Rymer's Focdera, 
p. 50. 

for any thing, i.e. for any sake, at any cost. The A. S. thing is 
often used in the sense of ' sake,' ' cause,' or ' reason.' For in Chaucer 
also means * against,' or ' to prevent,' but not (I think) here. 

277. Middelbtirgh and Orcwellc. ^ Middclburgh is still a well- 
known port of the island of Walcheren, in the Netherlands, almost 
immediately opposite Harwich, beside which are the estuaries of the 
rivers Stoure and Orwell. This spot was formerly known as the port 
of Orwell or Orei.uelle^ — Saunders, p. 229. 

This mention of Middelburgh 'proves that the Prologue must hav^e 
been written not before 1384, and not later than 1388. lu the year 
1384 the wool-staple was removed from Calais and established at 
Middelburgh; in 1388 it was fixed once more at Calais; see Craik's 
Hist, of Brit. Commerce, i. 123.' — Hales, Folia Literaria, p. 100. This 
note has a special importance. 

278. ' He well knew how to make a profit by the exchange of his 
crowns ' in the different money-markets of Europe. Sheeldes are 
crowns (O. F. escuz, F. cais), named from their having on one side the 
figure of a shield. They were valued at half a noble, or 3^. ^d. ; 
Appendix E. to Rymer's Foedera, p. 55. See B. 1521. 

279. his wit bisette, employed his knowledge to the best advantage. 
bisetie = used, employed. Cf. Piers Plowman, ed. Skeat, B. v. 297 : — 

' And if thow wite (know) nevere to whiche, ne whom to restitue 
[the goods gotten wrongfully] 
Bere it to the bisschop, and bidde hym, of his grace, 
Bisette it hymselue, as best is for thi soule.' 

281, 282. * So ceremoniously (or, with such lofty bearing) did he 
order his bargains and agreements for borrowing money.' A che- 
visaunce was an agreement for borrowing money on credit ; cf. B. 
1 5 19; also P. Plowman, B. v. 249, and the note. From F. chevir, 
to accomplish ; cf. E. achieve. 

284. noot = ?ie + wool, know not ; so 7iiste = ne + wiste, knew not. 

The Clerk. 

285. Clerk, a university student, a scholar preparing for the priest- 
hood. It also signifies a man of learning, a man in holy orders. See 

LI. 5177-315] THE MAN OF LAWE. 31 

Anstcy's Munimenta Academica for much interesting information on 
early Oxford life and studies. 

Oxen/ord, Oxford, as if ' the ford of the oxen ' (A. S. Oxnaford} ; 
and it has not been proved that this etymology is wrong. 

y-go, gone, betaken himself. 

287. Hence 'Leane as a rake' in Skelton, Philip Sparovve, 1. 913 ; 
'A villaine, leane as any rake, appeares' ; W. Browne, Brit. Past, 
bk. ii. song I. 

290. 'His uppermost short cloak (of coarse cloth).' The syllable 
-py answers to 'Dn. pije, a coarse cloth ; cf Goth, paida, a coat. Cf. 
E. pea-']s.ckc{. See D. 1382 ; P. Plowman, B. vi. 191 ; Rom. Rose, 

292. 'Nor was he so worldly as to take a (secular) office.' Many 
clerks undertook legal employments ; P. Plowman, B. pro). 95. 

293. ' For it was dearer to him to have,' i. e. he would rather have. 
lever is the comparative of M. E. leef, A. S. h'of, lief, dear. 

294. The first foot is defective: Twenjty bojkes, &c. 

296. In the Milleres Tale, Chaucer describes a clerk of a very oppo- 
site character, who loved dissipation and played upon a * sautrye ' or 
psaltery. See A. 3200-20. 

fithel is the mod. E. Jiddle. sautrye is an O. F. spelling of our 

297. philosophre is used in a double sense ; it sometimes meant an 
alchemist, as in G. 1427. The clerk knew philosophy, but he was no 
alchemist, and so had but little gold. 

298. Hadde, possessed ; as hadde is here emphatic, the final e is not 
elided. So also in 1. 386. 

301. Chaucer often imitates his own lines. He here imitates Troil. 
iv. 1 174—' And pitously gan for the soule preye.' gan, did. 

302. yaf Jam, ' gave him (money) wherewith to attend school.* An 
allusion to the common practice, at this period, of poor scholars in the 
Universities, who wandered about the country begging, to raise money 
to support them in their studies. Luther underwent a similar experience. 
Cf. P. Plowman, B. vii. 31 ; also Ploughman's Crede, ed. Skeat, p. 71. 

305. 'With propriety (due form) and modesty.' 

307. Souninge in, conducing to ; cf. note to 1. 275 above. 

The Man of Lawe. 

309, war, wary, cautions ; A. S. ^ccsr, aware. Cf. 1. 157. 

310. at the parzys, at the c/iurch-porch, or portico of St. Paul's, 
where the lawyers were wont to meet for consultation. See Ducange, 
s. V, paradisus, which is the Latin form whence the O. F, parvis is 
derived. Also the note in Warton, Hist. E. Poet., ed. 1840, ii. 212 ; 
cf. Anglia, viii. 453. And see Rom. of the Rose. 7108, and the note. 

315. pleyn, full ; F. plein, Lat. ace. plenum. Cf. pleytt, fully, in 
1. 327. 


320. purchasing; conveyancing ; infect, invalid. * The learned Ser- 
geant was clever enough to untie any entail, and pass the property as 
estate in fee simple.'— W. H. H. Kelke, in N. and Q. 5 S. vi. 487. 

The word viight-e occupies the fourth foot in the line. 

323, 324. * He was well acquainted with all the legal cases and de- 
cisions (or decrees) which had been ruled in the courts of law (lit. had 
befiillen) since the time of William the Conqueror.' In icrines hadde 
he, he had in tcmis, knew how to express in proper terms, was well 
acquainted with. 

325. Therto, moreover, make, compose, draw up, draught. 

326. j)i7iche at, find fault with ; lit. nip, twitch at. 

327. cmide he, he knew ; cottde is the pt. t. of konncn, to know, A.S. 

328. viedlee cote, a coat of mixed stuff or colour. In 1303, we find 
mention of ' one woman's surcoat of medley ' ; see Memorials of Lon- 
don, ed. Riley, p. 48. 

329. ceint of silk, Sec, a girdle of silk, with small ornaments. The 
barres were called cloitx in French (Lat. clavus), and were the usual 
ornaments of a girdle. They were perforated to allow the tongue 
of the buckle to pass through them. ' Originally they were attached 
transversely to the wide tissue of which the girdle was formed, but 
subsequently were round or square, or fashioned like the heads of lions, 
and similar devices, the name of bar7-e being still retained, though 
improperly.' — Way, in Promptorium Parvulorum ; s. v. barre. And 
see Bar in the New English Dictionary. Gower also has : 'a ceinte 
of silk'; C. A. ed. Pauli, ii. 30. Cf. A. 3235, and Rom. of the Rose, 

ceint, O. F. ceint, a girdle ; from Lat. cinctus, pp. of cingere, 
to gird. 

The Frankeleyn. 

33L Fortescue (De Laudibus Legum Angliae, c. 29) describes 
a franklin to be a. pater familias — niagnis ditatus possessionibtis ; i.e. 
he was a substantial householder and a man of some importance. 
See Warton, Hist. E. Poet., ed. 1840, ii. 202 ; and Gloss, to P. Plow- 

332. dayes-ye, daisy ; A. S. dcpges cage, lit. eye of day (the sun). 

333. ' He was sanguine of complexion.' The old school of medicine, 
following Galen, supposed that there were four ' humours,' viz. hot, 
cold, moist, and dry (see 1. 420), and four complexions or tempera- 
ments of men, viz. the sanguine, the choleric, the phlegmatic, and the 
melancholy. The man of sanguine complexion abounded in hot 
and moist humours, as shown in the following description, given 
in the Oriel MS. 79 (as quoted in my Preface to P. Plowman, B-text, 
p. xix) : — 

LI. 320-344.] THE FRANKELEYN. 


* Sanguineus. 
Largus, amans, hilaris, ridens, rubeique coloris, 
Cantans, carnosus, satis audax, atque benignus : 
multum appetit, quia calidus ; multum potest, quia humidus.' 

334. by tJte 7nor-we, in the morning. 

a sop in tuyn, wine with pieces of cake or bread in it ; see E. 1S43. 
See Brand, Antiq. (ed. EUis), ii. 137. Later, sop-in-ivine was a jocose 
name for a kind of pink or carnation ; id. ii. 91. 

In the Anturs of Arthur at the Tamewathelan, st. 37, we read that 

' Thre soppus of demayn [i. e. paindemayn] 
Wos broght to Sir Gaua[y]n 
For to comford his brayne.' 

And in MS. Harl. 279, fol. 10, we have the necessary instruction for 
the making of these sops. ' Take mylke and boyle it, and thanne tak 
yolkys of eyroun \t:ggs\ ytryid \s€parata{\ fro the whyte, and hete it, 
but let it nowt boyle, and stere it wyl tyl it be somwhat thikke ; thenne 
cast therto salt and sugre, and kytte \iut\ fay re paynemaynnys in 
round soppys, and caste the soppys theron, and serve it forth for 
a potage.' — Way, in Promptorium Parvulorum, p. 378. The F. name 
is soupe ail vin. See also Ducange, s. v. Merus. 

335. loone, wont, custom ; A. S. wuna, ge-wuna. 

dclyt, delight ; the mod. E. word is misspelt ; dclite would be better. 

336. ' A very son of Epicurus.' Alluding to the famous Greek 
philosopher [died B.C. 270], the author of the Epicurean philosophy, 
which assumed pleasure to be the highest good. Chaucer here follows 
Boethius, bk. iii. pr. 2. 54: 'The whiche delyt only considerede 
Epicurus, and iuged and establisshed that delyt is the sovercyn good.' 
Cf. Troil. iii. 1691, v. 763 ; also E. 2021. 

340. *■ St. Julian was eminent for providing his votaries with good 
lodgings and accommodation of all sorts. [See Chambers' Book 
of Days, ii. 388.] In the title of his legend, Bodl. MS. 1 596, fol. 4, he 
is called " St. Julian the gode herberjour " (St. Julian the good har- 
bourer).' — Tyrwhitt. His day is Jan. 9. See the Lives of Saints, ed. 
Horstmann (E. E. T. S.) ; also Gesta Romanorum, ed. Swan, tale 18 ; 
Mrs. Jameson, Sacred and Leg. Art, ii. 393. 

341. after oon, according to one invariable standard ; ' up to the 
mark' ; cf. A. 178 1, and the note. A description of a Franklin's feast 
is given in the Babees Book, ed. Fumivall, p. 170. 

342. envyncd, stored with wine. * Cotgrave has preserved the 
French word envin^ in the same sense.' — Tyrwhitt. 

343. bake mete = baked meat ; the old past participle of bake was 
baken or bake, as it was a strong verb. Baked meats = meats baked 
in coffins (pies). Cf. Hamlet, i. 2. 180. 

344. plentevous, plenteous, plentiful ; O. F. plentivous, formed by 
adding -ous to O. F. pleinti/y adj. abundant ; see Godefroy's O. F. 


* * * 

* * D 


345. The verb snewed may be explained as a metaphor from 
snowing; in fact, the M. E. snewe, like the Prov. Eng. sjiie or snive, 
also signifies to abound, sruar/n. Camb. MS. reads ' It snowede in 
his mouth of mete and drynk.' Cf. ' He was with yiftes [presents] all 
bisnewcd' ; Cower, C. A. iii. 51. From A. S. sniwoji. 

347. After^ according to ; it depended on what was in season. 

348. j<?/^r (supee'r), supper; from O. F. infin. soper; cf. F. 11 89. 

349. Dieivc. The vieive was the place where the hawks were kept 
while moulting ; it was afterwards applied to the coop wherein fowl 
were fattened, and lastly to a place of confinement or secrecy. 

350. siewe, fish-pond. ' To insure a supply of fish, stew-ponds 
were attached to the manors, and few monasteries were without 
them ; the moat around the castle was often converted into a fish- 
pond, and well stored with luce, carp, or tench.' — Our English 
Home, p. 65. 

bree7>i, bream ; luce, pike, from O. Y. luce, Low Lat. lucius. 

35L Wo ivas his cook, woeful or sad was his cook. We now only 
use wo or woe as a substantive. Cf. B. 757, E. 753 ; and * I am woe 
for 't' ; Tempest, v. I. 139. 

* Who was woo but Olyvere then ? '— Sowdone of Babyloyne, 1. 1271. 
Rob. of Brunne, in his Handlyng Synne, 1. 7250, says that a rich 
man's cook ' may no day Greythe hym hys mete to pay.' 

but-if, unless. 

351. 352. sauce — Poynautit is like the modern phrase sauce piquanie. 
Cf. B. 4024. ' Our forefathers were great lovers of " piquant sauce." 
They made it of expensive condiments and rare spices.' — Our English 
Home, p. 62. 

353. table dormant, irremoveable table. * Previous to the fourteenth 
century a pair of common wooden trestles and a rough plank was 
deemed a table sufficient for the great hall. . . . Tables, with a board 
attached to a frame, were introduced about the time of Chaucer, and, 
from remaining in the hall, were regarded as indications of a ready 
hospitality.' — Our English Home, p. 29. Most tables were removeable ; 
such a table was called a bord (board). 

355. sessiowis. At the Sessions of the Peace, at the meeting of the 
Justices of the Peace. Cf. * At Sessions and at Sises we bare the stroke 
and swaye.' — Higgins' Mirrour for Magistrates, ed. 1571, p. 2, 

356. knight of the shire, the designation given to the representative 
in parliament of an English county at large, as distinguished from the 
representatives of such counties and towns as are counties of themselves 
(Ogilvie). Chaucer was knight of the shire of Kent in 1386. 

tym-e here represents the A. S. timan, pi. oitima, a time, 

357. anlas or anelace. Speght defines this word as a falchion, or 
wood-knife. It was, however, a short two-edged knife or dagger 
usually worn at the girdle, broad at the hilt and tapering to a point. 
See the New Eng. Dictionary ; Liber Albus, p. 75 ; Knight, Pict. Hist, 
of England, i. 872 ; Gloss, to Matthew Paris, s. v. anelacius ; Riley's 



Memorials of London, p. 15. The etymology is unknown ; I guess it 
to be from M. E. an, on, and las, a lace, i.e. ' on a lace,' a dagger that 
hung from a lace attached to the girdle. Cf. A. S. bigyrdel (just 
below) ; and ' hanging on a laas ' in 1. 392. 

gipser was properly a pouch or budget used in hawking, &c., but 
commonly worn by the merchant, or with any secular attire. — (Way.) 
It answers to F. gibeciere, a pouch ; from O. F. gibe, a bunch (Scheler). 
In Riley's Memorials of London, p. 398, under the date 1 376, there 
is a mention of ' purses called ^/^^^^/.y.' In the Bury Wills, p. yj, 1. 16, 
under the date 1463, we find — ' My "htsi gypcer with iij. bagges.' The 

A. S. name was bigyrdel, from its hanging by the girdle, as said in 
1. 358 ; it occurs in the A.S. version of Matt. x. 9 ; and in P. Plowman, 

B. viii. 87. 

358. Heng (or Heeng), the past tense of hongen or ha?igen, to hang. 
morne w///(' = morning-milk ; as in A. 3236. 'As white as milke'; 

Ritson's Iklet. Romances, iii. 292. 

359. shirrevc, the reve of a shire, governor of a county ; our modern 
word sheriff. 

countotir, O.Fr. coviptonr, an accountant, a person who audited 
accounts or received money in charge, «S;c. ; ranked with pleaders in 
Riley's Memorials of London, p. 58. It occurs in Rob. of Gloucester, 
1. 1 1 153. In the Book of the Duch. 435, it simply means 'ac- 
countant.' Perhaps it here means ' auditor.' * Or stewards, counfours, 
or pleadours'; Plowman's Tale, pt. iii. st. 13. 

360. vavasour, or vavascr, originally a sub-vassal or tenant of 
a vassal or tenant of the king's, one who held his lands in fealty. 
' Vavasor, one that in dignities is next to a Baron ' ; Cowel. Strutt 
(Manners and Customs, iii. 14) explains that a vavasour was 'a tenant 
by knight's service, who did not hold immediately of the king in capite, 
but of some mesne lord, which excluded him from the dignity of baron 
by tenure.' Tyrwhitt says ' it should be understood to mean the whole 
class of middling landholders.' See Lacroix, Military Life of Middle 
Ages, p. 9. Spelt favasour in King Alisaundcr, ed. Weber, 1. 3827. 
A. F. uauassur; Laws of Will. I. c. 20. Lit. 'vassal of vassals' ; Low 
Lat. vassus vassoruvi. 

The Haberdassher and. others. 

36L Haberdassher. Haberdashers were of two kinds : haberdashers 
of small wares — sellers of needles, tapes, buttons, &c. ; and haber- 
dashers of hats. The stuff called hapertas is mentioned in the Liber 
Albus, p. 225. 

362. Webbe, properly a male weaver ; ivebstere was the female 
weaver, but there appears to have been some confusion in the use 
of the suffixes -e and -stere; see Piers Plowman, ed. Skeat, B. v. 215 : 
* mi "u/yf was a webbeJ Hence the names Webb and Webster. Cf. 

D 2 


A. S. webba, m., a weaver; webbestere, fern, tapicer, upholsterer; 
F. tapis^ carpet. 

363. Hveree, livery. ' Under the term " livery " was included what- 
ever was dispensed (delivered) by the lord to his officials or domestics 
annually or at certain seasons, whether money, victuals, or garments. 
The term chiefly denoted external marks of distinction, such as the 
roba estivalis and hiemalis, given to the officers and retainers of the 
court. . . . The Stat. 7 Hen. IV expressly permits the adoption of 
such distinctive dress by fraternities and " les goitz de mesiere" the 
trades of the cities of the realm, being ordained with good Intent ; 
and to this prevalent usage Chaucer alludes when he describes five 
artificers of various callings, who joined the pilgrimage, clothed all 
in lyverd of a sole7Hpne and greet fraterniti'.^ — ^Vay, note to Prompt. 
Parv., p. 308. We still speak of the Livery Companies. 

And they were clothed alle (Elles., &c.) ; IVeren with vss eeke 
clothed (Harl.) The former reading leaves the former clause of the 
sentence without a verb. 

364. fraternitee, guild : see English Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith, pp. 
XXX, xxxix, cxxii. Each guild had its own livery ; Rock, Church of 
our Fathers, ii. 412. 

365. gere, gear, apparel, apyked, signifies cleaned, trimmed, like 
Shakespeare's //V^vr/. Cotgrave gives as senses of F. piqucr, *to quilt,' 
and * to stiffen a coller.' 

360. y-chaped, having chapes (i.e. plates or caps of metal at the 
point of the sheath or scabbard). Tradesmen and mechanics were 
prohibited from using knives adorned with silver, gold, or precious 
stones. So that Chaucer's pilgrims were of a superior estate, as is 
indicated in 1. 369. Cf. chapeless, Taming of the Shrew, iii. 2. 48. 

370. deys, dese, or dais (Fr. dels, from Lat. disctim, ace), is used 
to denote the raised platform which was always found at the upper 
end of a hall, on which the high table was placed ; originally, it meant 
the high table itself. In modem French and English, it is used of a 
canopy or 'tester' over a seat of state. Tyrwhitt's account of the 
word is confused, as he starts with a false etymology. 

yeld-halle, guild-hall. See Gildhall in the Index to E. Gilds, ed. 
Toulmin Smith. 

37 L that he can, that he knows ; so also as he coiithe, as he knew 
how, in 1. 390. This line is deficient in the first foot. 

372. shaply, adapted, fit ; sometimes comely, of good shape. The 
mention of alderman should be noted. It was the invariable title 
given to one who was chosen as the head or principal of a guild (see 
English Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith, pp. ciii, 36, 148, 276, 446). All 
these men belonged to a fraternity or guild, and each of them was a fit 
man to be chosen as head of it. 

373, ' For they had sufficient property and income * (to entitle them 
to undertake such an office). 

376. y-clept, called ; pp. oi clepen ; see 1. 121. 

LI. 363-386.] THE COOK. 37 

377. And goon to vigilyes al bifore. ' It was the manner in times 
past, upon festival evens, called vigtlicr, for parishioners to meet in 
their church-houses or church-yards, and there to have a drinking-fit 
for the time. Here they used to end many quarrels betwixt neighbour 
and neighbour. Hither came the wives in comely manner, and they 
which were of the better sort had their mantles carried with them, 
as well for show as to keep them from cold at table.' — Speght, Gl. to 

The Cook. 

Sl'd. for Ihe nones=for the nonce \ this expression, if grammatically 
written, would ho. for then once, 'M.'E./or Jnin anes, for the once, i.e. 
for the occasion ; where the adv. tvics (orig. a gen. form) is used as if 
it were a sb. in the dat. case. Cf. M.E. atte=atten^ A. S. cet J>din. 

381. poudre-marchaunt tari is a sharp (tart) kind of flavouring 
powder, twice mentioned in Household Ordinances and Receipts (Soc. 
Antiq. 1790) at pp. 425, 434 : ' Do therto pouJer fnanhani,' and 'do 
thi flessh therto, and gode herbes and poudre marchaunt, and let hit 
well stew.' — Notes and Queries, Fourth Series, iii. iSo. See Powder 
in the Glossary to the Babees Book. 

' Galingale, which Chaucer, pre-eminentest, economioniseth above 
all junquetries or confectionaries whatsoever.' — Nash's Lenten Stuff, 
p. 36, ed. Hindley. Galingale is the root of sweet cyperus. Harman 
(cd. Strother) notices three varieties : Cyperus rotundus, Galanga 
major, Galanga minor; Babees Book, ed. Fumivall, pp. 152, 216. 
See also Marco Polo, ed. Yule, ii. 181 ; Prompt. Parv., p. 185, note 4 ; 
Rogers, Hist, of Agriculture and Prices, i. 629; (Sic. And see Dr. H. 
Fletcher Hance's and Mr. Daniel Hanbury's Papers on this spice in 
the Linnxan Society's Journal, 1871. 

382. London ale. London ale was famous as early as the time of 
Henry II L, and much higher priced than any other ale ; cf. A. 3140. 

Wei coiide he knowc, he well knew how to distinguish. In fact, we 
find, in the Manciple's Prologue (H. 57), that the Cook loved good ale 
only too well. 

384. mortrenx or mortrewes. There were two kinds of ' mortrews,' 
'mortrewesde chare' and ' mortrewes of fysshe.' The first was a kind 
of soup in which chickens, fresh pork, crumbs of bread, yolks of eggs, 
and saflfron formed the chief ingredients ; the second kind was a soup 
containing the roe (or milt) and liver offish, bread, pepper, ale. The 
ingredients were first stamped or brayed in a mortar, whence it 
probably derived its name. Lord Bacon (Nat. Hist. i. 48) speaks of 
* a mortresse made with the brawne of capons stamped and strained.' 
See Babees Book, pp. 151, 170, 172 ; Liber Cure Cocorum, ed. Morris, 
pp. 9, 19; and the note to P. Plowman, C. xvi. 47. This line, like 
11. 371 and 391, is deficient in the first foot. 

386. mormal, a cancer or gangrene. Ben Jonson, in imitation of 


this passage, has described a cook with an 'old mortmal on his shin ' ; 
Sad Shepherd, act ii. sc. 2. Lydgate speaks of 'Goutes, viormalles, 
horrible to the sight'; Falls of Princes, bk. vii. c. lo. In Polit. 
Religious and Love Poems, ed. Furnivall, p. 218, we are told that the 
sin of Luxury 'ys a lyther iiiormale.' In Skelton's Magnificence, 
1. 1932, Adversity is made to say — 'Some with the marinoll to halte 
I them make ' ; and it is remarkable that Palsgrave gives both — 
' Mormall, a sore,' and ' Marmoll, a sore ' ; the latter being plainly 
a corrupt form. See also Prompt. Parvulorum, p. 343, note 5. In 
MS. Go. i. 20, last leaf, in the Camb. Univ. Library, are notices of 
remedies * Por la maladie que est apele mahcvi viortuum! The MS. 
says that it comes from melancholy, and shows a broad hard scurf or 

387. blank-inaiigery a compound made of capon minced, with rice, 
milk, sugar, and almonds ; see Liber Cure Cocorum, ed. Morris, p. 9. 
Named from its white colour. 

The Shipman. 

See the essay on Chaucer's Shipman in Essays on Chaucer, p. 455. 

388. uioning, dwelling ; from A. S. wutiian, to dwell. 

by iveste='wcsi'ward. A good old expression, which was once very 
common as late as the sixteenth century. 

389. Dartmouth was once a very considerable port ; see Essays on 
Chaucer, p. 456. Compare the account of the Shipman's Gild at 
Lynn ; E. Gilds, p. 54. 

390. rotincy, a common hackney horse, a nag. Cf. Rozinanie. 
^ Rocinante — significativo de lo que habia sido cuando fue rocin, 
antes de lo que ahora era.' Don Quijote, cap. i. 'From Rosin, 
a drudge-horse, and ante, before.' Jarvis's note. The O. F. form is 
roncin ; Low Lat. runcimis. The rouncy was chiefly used for agri- 
cultural work ; see Essays on Chaucer, p. 494. 

as he couthe, as he knew how ; but, as a sailor, his knowledge this 
way was deficient. 

391. a goune 0/ jaUing, a. gown (robe) of coarse cloth. The term 
/aiding signifies 'a kind of frieze or rough-napped cloth,' which was 

probably 'supplied from the North of Europe, and identical with the 
woollen wrappers of which Hermoldus speaks, '■^ quos nos appellamus 
Faldonesr' — Way. ^ Falding was a coarse serge cloth, very rough 
and durable,' <S:c. ; Essays on Chaucer, p. 438. In MS. O. 5. 4, in 
Trinity College, Cambridge, occurs the entry — ' Amphibulus, vestis 
equi villosa, anglice a sclauayii or /aldyng' ; cited in Furnivall's 
Temporary Preface, p. 99. In 1392, I find a mention of 'unam 
tunicam de \\\gro fa/dytig lineatam' ; Testamenta Eboracensia, i. 173. 
Hence its colour was sometimes black, and the Shipman's gown is 
so coloured in the drawing in the Ellesmere MS.; but see A. 3212. 
See the whole of Way's long note in the Prompt. Parvulorum. 

LI. 387-410.] THE SHIPMAN. 39 

392. liKJs, lace, cord. Seamen still carry their knives slung. 

394. the hole soma'. ' Perhaps this is a reference to the summer of 
the year 1351, which was long remembered as the dry and hot 
summer.' — Wright. There was another such summer in 1370, much 
nearer the date of this Prologue. But it may be a mere general 

395. a goodfelai>.'e, a merry companion ; as in 1. 648. 

396-8. ' Very many a draught of wine had he drawn (stolen away 
or carried off) from Bordeaux, cask and all, while the chapman 
(merchant or supercargo to whom the wine belonged) was asleep ; for 
he paid no regard to any conscientious scruples.' 

iook keep ; cf. F. prendre gaj-de. 

399. hyer houd, upper hand. 

400. * He sent them home to wherever they came from by water^ 
i. e. he made them ' walk the plank,' as it used to be called ; or, in 
plain English, threw them overboard, to sink or swim. However 
cruel this may seem now, it was probably a common practice. ' This 
battle (the sea-fight off Sluys) was very murderous and horrible. 
Combats at sea are more destructive and obstinate than upon land' ; 
Froissart's Chron. bk. i. c. 50. See Minot's Poems, ed. Hall, p. 16. 
In Wright's History of Caricature, p. 204, is an anecdote of the way 
in which the defeat of the French at Sluys was at last revealed to the 
king of France, Philippe VI., by the court-jester, who alone dared to 
communicate the news. 'Entering the King's chamber, he continued 
muttering to himself, but loud enough to be heard — " Those cowardly 
English! the chicken-hearted English!" "How so, cousin?" the 
king inquired. "Why," replied the fool, "because they have not 
courage enough to jump into the sea, like your French soldiers, who 
went over headlong from their ships, leaving them to the enemy, who 
had no inclhiation to follow them" Philippe thus became aware of 
the full extent of his calamity.' And see Essays on Chaucer, p. 460. 

402. siremes, currents, htju bisydes, ever near at hand. 

403. hcrberwey harbour ; see note to 1. 765. mone, moon, time of 
the lunation. 

lodemenage, pilotage. A pilot was called a lodesman ; see Way's 
note in Prompt. Parv. p. 310; Riley's Memorials of London, p. 655 ; 
Chaucer's Legend of Good Women, 1488. Furnivall's Temporary 
Preface, p. 98, gives the Lat. form as lodmannus, whence lodinann- 
agium, pilotage, examples of which are given. Sometimes, lodesman 
meant any guide or conductor, as in Rob. of Brunne, Handlyng Synne, 
9027 ; Monk of Evesham, ed. Arber, p. 106. M.E. lode is the A. S. 
hiil, a way, a course, the sb. whence the verb to lead is derived. It is 
itself derived from A. S. lidan^ to travel. 

404. Cf. Rom. de la Rose, 5394 — ' Qui cercheroit jusqu'en Cartage." 

408. Gootland, Cottland, an island in the Baltic Sea. 

409. cryke, creek, harbour, port. 

410. We find actual mention of a vessel called the Maudelayne 


belonging to the port of Dartmouth, in the years 1 379 and 1386 ; see 
Essays on Chaucer, p. 484, See also N. & O. 6 S. xii. 47. 

The Doctour. 

415. astronojnye, (really) astrology. See Saunders on Chaucer, 
p. Ill ; Warton, Hist. E. Poet. (1840), ii. 202. 

415. 416. kcpte, watched. The houres are the astrological hours. 
He carefully watched for a favourable star in the ascendant. * A 
great portion of the medical science of the middle ages depended upon 
astrological and other superstitious observances.' — Wright. ' A Phisi- 
tion must take heede and aduise him of a certaine thing, \\i?i'i fay leih 
not, nor dccciucth, the which thing Astronomers of ^gypt taught, that 
by coniunction of the bodye of the Moone with sterres fortunate, 
commeth dreadful sicknesse to good end : and with contrary Planets 
falleth the contrary, that is, to euill ende ' ; <S:c. — Batman upon 
Bartholome, lib. viii. c. 29. Precisely the same sort of thing was in 
vogue much later, viz. in 1578; sec Bullein's Dialogue against the 
Fcuer Pestilence (E. E. T. S.), p. 32. 

416. viagik 7iaiurcl. Chaucer alludes to the same practices in the 
House of Fame, 1259-70 (vol. iii. p. 38) : — 

'Ther saugh I pleyen logelours 

• ••••• 

And clerkes eek, which conne wel 
Al this magyke itaiufel, 
That craftely don hir ententes 
To make, in certcyn ascendenics, 
Images, lo ! through which magyk 
To make a man ben hool or syk.' 

417. The ascendent is the point of the zodiacal circle which happens 
to be ascending above the horizon at a given moment, such as the 
moment of birth. Upon it depended the drawing out of a man's horo- 
scope, which represented the aspect of the heavens at some given 
critical moment. The moment, in the present case, is that for making 
images. It was believed that images of men and animals could be 
made of certain substances and at certain times, and could be so 
treated as to cause good or evil to a patient, by means of magical and 
planetary influences. See Cornelius Agrippa, De Occulta Philosophia, 
lib. ii. capp. 35-47. The sense is — ' He knew well how to choose 
a fortunate ascendant for treating images, to be used as charms to help 
the patient.' 

'With Astrologie joyne elements also. 
To fortune their Workings as theie go.' 
Norton's Ordinall, in Ashmole's Theatrum Chemicum, p. 60. 

420. These are they&«r elementary qualities, hot, cold, dry, moist ; 

LI. 415-434.] THE DOCTOUR, 41 

Milton, Par. Lost, ii. 898. Diseases were supposed to be caused by 
an undue excess of some one quality ; and the mixture of prevalent 
qualities in a man's body determined his complexion or temperament. 
Thus the sa7igiiine man was thought to be hot and moist ; the 
phlegmatic, cold and moist ; the choleric, hot and dry ; the melancholy, 
cold and dry. The whole system rested on the teaching of Galen, 
and was fundamentally wrong, as it assumed that the ' elements,' or 
* simple bodies,' were four, viz. earth, air, fire, and water. Of these, 
earth was said to be cold and dry ; water, cold and moist ; air, hot and 
moist ; and fire, hot and dry. They thus correspond to the four 
complexions, viz. melancholy, phlegmatic, sanguine, and choleric. 
Each principal part of the body, as the brain, heart, liver, stomach, 
&c., could be 'distempered,' and such distemperance could be either 
'simple' or 'compound.' Thus a simple distempcrature of the brain 
might be ' an excess of heat ' ; a compound one, ' an excess of heat 
and moisture.' See the whole system explained in Sir Thos. Elyot's 
Castel of Helthe ; at the beginning. 

422. parjit practisour, perfect practitioner. 

424. his bote, his remedy ; A. S. bot, a remedy ; E. boot. 

426. drogges. MS. Harl. dragges ; the rest drogges, drugges, drugs. 
As to dragges (which is quite a different word), the Promptorium 
Parvulorum has ' dragge, dragetum ' ; and Cotgrave defines dragee 
(the French form of the word dragge) as * a kind of digestive powder 
prescribed unto weak stomachs after meat, and hence any jonkets, 
comfits, or sweetmeats served in the last course for stomach-closers.' 

letuartes, electuaries. ' Letuaire, laituarie, s. m., electuaire, sorte 
de medicament, sirop ' ; Godefroy. 

429-34. Read tlColdc. * The authors mentioned here wrote the 
chief medical text-books of the middle ages. Rufus was a Greek phy- 
sician of Ephesus, of the age of Trajan ; Haly, Scrapion, and Aviccn 
(Ebn Sina) were Arabian physicians and astronomers of the eleventh 
century; Rhasis was a Spanish Arab of the tenth century; and 
Averroes (Ebn Roschd) was a Moorish scholar who flourished in 
Morocco in the twelfth century. Johannes Damascenus was also an 
Arabian physician, but of a much earlier date (probably of the ninth 
century), Constanti[n]us Afcr, a native of Carthage, and afterwards 
a monk of Monte Cassino, was one of the founders of the school of 
Salerno— he lived at the end of the eleventh century. Bernardus 
Gordonius, professor of medicine at Montpellier, appears to have been 
Chaucer's contemporary. John Gatisden was a distinguished physician 
of Oxford in the earlier half of the fourteenth century. Gilbcrtyn is 
supposed by Warton to be the celebrated Gilbertus Anglicus. The 
names of Hippocrates and Galen were, in the middle ages, always (or 
nearly always) spelt Ypocras and Galienus.' — Wright. Cf. C. 306. 
yEsculapius, god of medicine, was fabled to be the son of Apollo. 
Dioscorides was a Greek physician of the second century. See the 
long note in Warton, 1871, ii. 368 ; and the account in Saunders' 


Chaucer (1889), p. 115. I may note here, that Haly wrote a com- 
mentary on Galen, and is mentioned in Skelton's Philip Sparowe, 

I. 505. There were three Serapions ; the one here meant was probably 
John Serapion, in the eleventh century. Averroes wrote a commentary 
on the works of Aristotle, and died about 1198. Constantinus is the 
same as 'the cursed monk Dan Constantyn,' mentioned in the 
Marchaunt's Tale, E. 1810. John Gatisden was a fellow of Merton 
College, and 'was court-doctor under Edw. II. He wrote a treatise 
on medicine called Rosa Anglica^ \ J. Jusserand, Eng. Wayfaring 
Life, (1889), p. 180. Cf. Book of the Duchess, 572. Dante, Inf. iv. 
143, mentions 'Ippocrate, Avicenna, e Gallieno, Averrois,' &c. 

' Par Hipocras, ne Galien, . . . 
Rasis, Constantin, Aviccnne ' ; 

Rom. de la Rose, 16161. 
See Lounsbury, Studies in Chaucer, ii. 393. 

439. 'In cloth of a blood-red colour and of a blueish-grey.' Cf. 
'robes At. per s^' Rom. de la Rose, 91 16. In the Testament of Creseide, 
ed. 1550, St. 36, we find : — 

' Docter in phisike cledde in a scarlet gown, 
And furred wel as suche one oughte to be.' 
Cf. P. Plowman, B. vi. 271 ; Hoccleve, de Reg. Princ. p. 26. 

440. taffaia (or taffeiy)^ a sort of thin silk ; E. taffeta. 

scndal (or cendal), a kind of rich thin silk used for lining, very 
highly esteemed. Thynne says — ' a thynne stufTe lyke sarcenett.' 
Palsgrave however has ' cendell, thynne lynnen, sendal' See Piers 
Plowman, B. vi. 1 1 ; Marco Polo, ed. Yule (see the index). 

441. esy of dispence, moderate in his expenditure. 

442. loati i7i pestilence, acquired during the pestilence. This is an 
/ allusion to the great pestilence of the years 1348, 1349 ; or to the 

later pestilences in 1362, 1369, and 1376. 

443. /v?r= because, seeing that. It was supposed that (7«r///«/5fl/(z3//<? 
was a sovereign remedy in some cases. The actual reference is, 
probably, to Les Remonstrances de Nature, by Jean de Meun, 

II. 979, 980, &c. ; ' C'est le fin et bon or potable, L'humide radical 
notable; C'est souveraine medecine'; and the author goes on to 
refer us to Ecclus. xxxviii. 4 — ' The Lord hath created medicines out of 
the earth ; and he that is wise will not abhor them.' Hence the Doctor 
would not abhor gold. And further — 'C'est medecine cordiale'' \ 
ib. 1029. To return to aurunipotabile : I may obsei"ve that it is mentioned 
in the play called Humour out of Breath, Act i. sc. I ; and there is 
a footnote to the effect that this was the ' Universal Medicine of the 
alchemists, prepared from gold, mercury, &c. The full receipt will be 
found in the Fifth and last Part of the Last Testament of Friar Basilius 
Valentinus, London, 1670, pp. 371-7.' See also Thomson's Hist, of 
Chemistry, vol. i. p. 164 ; Burton's Anat. of Melancholy, pt. 2. sec. 4. 
mem. i. subsec. 4. 

LL 439-457-] THE WYF OF BATHE. 43 

The "Wyf of Bathe. 

445. o/bisyde, &c., from (a place) near Bath, i.e. from a place in its 
suburbs ; for elsewhere she is simply called the Wyf of Bathe. 

446. ' But she was somewhat deaf, and that was her misfortune.' We 
should now say — ' and it was a pity.' 

447. dooth-making. 'The West of England, and especially the 
neighbourhood of Bath, from which the "good wif" came, was cele- 
brated, till a comparatively recent period, as the district of cloth-making. 
Ypres and Ghent were the great clothing-marts on the Continent.' — 
Wright. 'Edward the third brought clothing first into this Island, 
transporting some families of artificers from Gaunt hither.' — Burton's 
Anat. of Mel. p. 51. 'Cloth of Gaunt' is mentioned in the Romaunt of 
the Rose, 1. 574 (vol. i. p. 117). 

haunt, use, practice ; i. e. she was so well skilled (in it). 

448. passed, i. e. surpassed. 

450. to the offring. In the description of the missal-rites. Rock 
shews how the bishop (or officiating priest) ' took from the people's 
selves their offerings of bread and wine. . . The men first and then the 
women, came with their cake and cruse of wine.' So that, instead of 
money being collected, as now, the people went up in order with their 
offerings ; and questions of precedence of course arose. The Wife 
insisted on going up first among the women. See Rock, Church of our 
Fathers, iii. 2. n, 149. 

453. coverchief {keverchef, or kerchere, kercht'). The kerchief, or 
covering for the head, was, until the fourteenth century, almost an 
indispensable portion of female attire. See B. 837 ; Leg. of Good 
Women, 1. 2202. 

ful fyne of ground, of a very fine texture. See Pierce the Plough- 
man's Crede, I. 230, which means ' it was of fine enough texture to take 
dye in grain.' 

454. ten pound. Of course this is a playful exaggeration ; but 
Tyrwhitt was not justified in altering ten pound into a pound; for 
a pound-weight, in a head-dress of that period, was a mere nothing, as 
will be readily understood by observing the huge structures represented 
in Fairholt's Costume, figs. 125, 129, 130, 151, which were often further 
weighted with ornaments of gold. Skelton goes so far as to describe 
Elinour Rummyng (1. 72) — 

'With clothes upon her hed 
That wey a soiue of led.^ 

Cf. Pierce the Ploughman's Crede, I.84, and the note ; Stubbcs, Anatomy 
of Abuses, 1585, pp. 63, 70, 72 ; or ed. Furnivall, pp. 69, 74, 76. 

457. streite y-teyd, tightly fastened. See note to 1. 174. 

vioiste, soft — not ' as hard as old boots.' So, in H. 60, inoysty ale is 
new ale. 


460. chirche-dore. The priest married the couple at the church-porch, 
and immediately afterwards proceeded to the altar to celebrate mass, at 
which the newly-married persons communicated. As Todd remarks — 
'The custom was, that the parties did not enter the church till that 
part of the office, where the minister now goes up to the altar [or rather, 
is directed to go up], and repeats the psalm.' See Warton, Hist. Eng. 
Poet. 1871, ii. 366, note i; Anglia, vi. 106; Rock, Church of our 
Fathers, iii. pt. 2. 172 ; Brand's Antiquities, ed. Ellis, ii. 134. And see 
D. 6. 

461. ^F////<7«/^« = besides, other covipaitye^Q^ki^xXoxtx?,. This ex- 
pression (copied from Le Rom. de la Rose, 1. 12985 — 'autre com- 
panie') makes it quite certain that the character of the Wife of Bath is 
copied, in some respects, from that of La Vieille in the Roman de la 
Rose, as further appears in the Wife's Prologue. 

462. as noiithe, as now, i. e. at present. The form noitthe is not 
uncommon ; it occurs in P. Plowman, AUit. Poems, Sir Gawain and 
the Grene Knight, &c. A. S. 7tu ^d, now then. 

465. Boloigne. Cf. ' I will have you swear by our dear Lady of 
Boulogne'; Gammer Gurton's Needle, Act 2, sc. 2. An image of the 
virgin, at Boulogne, was sought by pilgrims. See Heylin's Survey of 
France, p. 163, ed. 1656 (quoted in the above, ed. Hazlitt). 

466. In Galice (Galicia), at the shrine of St. James of Compostella, 
a famous resort of pilgrims in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 
As the legend goes, the body of St. James the Apostle was supposed to 
have been carried in a ship without a rudder to Galicia, and preserved 
at Compostella. See Piers Plowman, A. iv. 106, 110, and note to B. 
Prol. 47 ; also Eng. Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith, pp. 172, 177. 

Coloigne. At Cologne, where the bones of the Three Kings or Wise 
Men of the East, Caspar, Mdchior and Balthazar, are said to be 
preserved. See Coryat's Crudities ; Chambers, Book of Days, ii. 751. 

467. ' She knew much about travelling.' 

468. Gat-tothcd = gat-toothcd, meaning gap-toothed, having teeth 
wide apart or separated from one another. A gat is an opening, and is 
allied to E. gate. The Friesic gat, Dan., Du., and Icel. gat, and 
Norweg.^frt;/, all mean a hole, or a gap. Very similar is the use of the 
Shropshire glat, a gap in a hedge, also a gap in the mouth caused by 
loss of teeth. Example : ' Dick, yo' bin a flirt ; I thought yo' wun 
{were) gwein to marry the cook at the paas'n's. Aye, but 'er'd gotten 
too many glats i' the mouth for me ' ; Miss Jackson's Shropshire Word- 
book. 'Famine— the ^a/-/<3<?///^</ elf; Golding's Ovid, b. 8 ; leaf 105. 
It occurs again, D. 603. \Gat-tooth£d\i7i.% also been explained SiS goat- 
toothed, lascivious, but the word goat appears as goot in Chaucer.] 
Perhaps the following piece of ' folk-lore ' will help us out. ' A young 
lady the other day, in reply to an observation of mine — "What a lucky 
girl you are ! "—replied ; " So they used to say I should be when at 
school." " Why ? " " Because my teeth were set so far apart; it was 
a sure sign I should be lucky a)id travel." ^ — Notes & Queries I Sen 

LI. 460-494.] THE PERSOUN. 45 

vi. 6oi ; cf. the same, 7 Ser. vii. 306. The last quotation shews that 
the stop after weye at the end of 1. 467 should be a mere semicolon ; 
since 11. 467 and 468 are closely connected. 

469. amblere, an ambling horse. 

470. Y-wimpled, covered with a wimple; see I. 151. 

471. targe, target, shield. 

472. foot-ina7itel. Tyrwhitt supposes this to be a sort of riding- 
Petticoat, such as is now used by market-women. It is clearly shewn, 
as a blue outer skirt, in the drawing in the Ellesmere MS. At a later 
time it was called a safe-guard {stc Nares), and its use was to keep the 
gown clean. It may be added that, in the Ellesmere IVIS., the Wife is 
represented as riding astride. Hence she wanted ' a pair of spurs.' 

474. carpe, prate, discourse ; I eel. karpa, to brag. The present 
sense of carp seems to be due to Lat. ca?pere. 

475. reviedyes. An allusion to the title and subject of Ovid's book, 
Remedia Amoris. 

476. the olde daunce, the old game, or custom. The phrase is 
borrowed from Le Roman de la Rose, I. 3946 — 'Qu'el scet toute la 
vielle dance ' ; E. version, 1. 4300 — ' For she knew al the olde daunce.* 
It occurs again ; Troil. iii. 695. And in Troil. ii. 1 106, we have the 
phrase loves daunce. Cf. the amorouse daunce, Troil. iv. 1431. 

The Persoun. 

478. Persoun of a toun, the parson or parish priest. Chaucer, in his 
description of the parson, contrasts the piety and industry of the secular 
clergy with the wickedness and laziness of the religious orders or monks. 
See Dryden's 'Character of a Good Parson,' and Goldsmith's ' Deserted 
Village'; also Wyclif, ed. Matthew, p. 179. 

482. parisshens, parishioners ; in which -er is a later suffix. 

485. y-preved, proved (to be}, ofte sythes, often-times ; from A. S. 
sVS, a time. 

486. ' He was very loath to excommunicate those who failed to pay 
the tithes that were due to him.' ' Refusal to pay tithes was punishable 
with the lesser excommunication ' ; Bell. Wyclifcomplainsof * weiward 
curatis ' that * sclaundren here parischenys many weies by ensaumple 
of pride, enuye, coueitise and vnresonable vengaunce, so cruely cursynge 
for tithes' ; Works, ed. Matthew, p. 144 (cf. p. 132). 

487. yeven, give ; A. S. gifan. out of doute, without doubt. 

489. offritig, the voluntary contributions of his parishioners. 
stibstaunce, income derived from his benefice. 

490. suffisaunce, a sufficiency ; enough to live on. 

492. lafte not, left not, ceased not ; from IM. E. leven. 

493. meschief, mishap, misfortune. 

494. ferreste, farthest ; superl. oifer, far. muche, great, lyte, small ; 
A. S. lyt, small, little. 


497. wroghte, wrought, worked ; pt. t. of werchen, to work. 

498. The allusion is to Matt. v. 19, as shewn by a parallel passage in 
P. Plowman, C. xv^i. 127. 

502. lewed, unlearned, ignorant. Lew ed or /i?w^/ originally signified 
the people, laity, as opposed to the clergy ; the modern sense of the 
word is not common in Middle English. Cf. mod. E. lewd, in Acts 
xvii. 5. See Lewdm Trench, Select Glossary. 

S03-4. if a freest tak-c keep, if a priest may (i.e. will) but pay heed 
to it. St. John Chrysostom also saith, * It is a great shame for priests, 
when laymen be found faithfuller and more righteous than they.' — 
Becon's Invective against Swearing, p. 336. 

507. to Jiyre. The parson did not leave his parish duties to be per- 
formed by a stranger, that he might have leisure to seek a chantry in 
St. Paul's. See Piers Plowman, B-text, Prol. 1. 83 ; Hoccleve, De 
Regimine Principum, ed. Wright, pp. 51, 52 ; Spenser, Shep. Kalendar 

508. Afid leet, and left (not). We should now say — ' Nor left.' So 
also, in 1. 509, And ran = Nor ran. Leei is the pt. t. of leten, to let 
alone, let go. 

509. Here again, s'e-yni is used as if it were dissyllabic ; see 11. 120, 

510. chaunterie, chantry ; an endowment for the payment of a priest 
to sing mass, agreeably to the appointment of the founder. ' There 
were thirty-five of these chantries established at St. Paul's, which were 
served by fifty-four priests ; Dugd. Hist. pref. p. 41.' — Tyrwhitt's 
Glossary. On the difference between a gild and a chantry, see the 
instructive remarks in Eng. Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith, pp. 205-207, 259. 

511. 'Or to be kept (i.e. remain) in retirement along with some 
fraternity.' I do not see how with-holde can mean 'maintained,' as it 
is usually explained. Cf. dwelte in 1. 512, and with-holde in G. 345. 

514. no viercenarie, no hireling ; see John x. 12, where the Vulgate 
version has niercenarius. 

516. despitoiis, full ai despite, or contempt ; cf. E. spite. 

517. daimgeroiis, not affable, difficult to approach. Cf. Rom. of the 
Rose, 1. 591 :— ' Ne of hir answer daimgeroiis' ; where the original has 
desdaigneiise. digne, full of dignity ; hence, repellent. ' She was as 
digne as water in a dich,' A. 3964 ; because stagnant water keeps 
people at a distance. 

519. fairnesse, i. e. by leading a fair or good life. The Harleian MS. 
has clennesse, that is, a life of purity. 

523. snibben, reprimand ; cf. Dan. snibbe, to rebuke, scold ; mod. E. 
snub. In Wyclif's translation of Matt, xviii. 15, the earlier version has 
snybbe as a synonym for rep7'ove. 

nones ; see 1. 379, and the note. 

525. wayted after, looked for. See line 571. 

526. spy ced conscience; so also in D. 435. Spiced here seems to 
signify, says Tyrwhitt, nice, scrupulous ; for a reason which is given 

LI. 497-545.] THE MILLER. 47 

below. It occurs in the Mad Lover, act iii. sc. I, by Beaumont and 
Fletcher. When Cleanthe offers a purse, the priestess says — 

' Fy ! no corruption .... 
Cle. Take it, it is yours ; 
Be not so spiced \ 'tis good gold; 
And goodness is no gall to th' conscience.' 

'Under pretence of j/zV^^ holinesse.' — Tract dated 1594, ap. Todd's 
Illustrations of Gower, p. 380. 

* Fool that I was, to offer such a bargain 
To a spiccd-conscience chapman ! but I care not. 
What he disdains to taste, others will swallow.' 

Massinger, Emperor of the East, i. i. 

* Will you please to put off 
Your holy habit, and spiced conscience} one, 
I think, infects the other.' 

Massinger, Bashful Lover, iv. 2. 

The origin of the phrase is French. The name of espices (spices) was 
given to the fees or dues which were payable (in advance) to judges. 
A ' spiced 'judge, who would have a * spiced ' conscience, was scrupulous 
and exact, because he had been prepaid, and was inaccessible to any 
but large bribes. See Cotgrave, s. v. espices ; Littre, s. v. epice ; and, 
in particular, Les CEuvres de Guillaume Coquillart, ed. P. Tarb^, t. i. 
p. 31, and t. ii. p. 114. (First explained by me in a letter to The 
Athenaeum, Nov. 26, 1892, p. 741.) 

527. ' But the teaching of Christ and his twelve apostles, that 
taught he.' 

528. Cf. Acts, i. I ; Gower, Conf. Amant. ii. 188. 

The Plowman. 

529. Plowman \ not a hind or farm-labourer, but a poor farmer, who 
himself held the plough ; cf. note to P. Plowman, C. viii. 182. li'as, 
who was. 

530. y-lad, carried, lit. led. Cf. prov. E. lead, to cart (com). 

531. jw/w/t^-r, toiler, workman ; see 1. 186. Cf. szvink, toil, in 1. 540. 
534. though him gamed or smerie, though it was pleasant or 

unpleasant to him. 

536. dyke, make ditches, delve, dig ; A. S. del/an. Chaucer may be 
referring to P. Plowman, B. v. 552, 553. 

541. 7?iere. People of quality would not ride upon a mare. 

The Miller. 

545. carl, fellow ; I eel. karl, cognate with A. S. ceorl,2L churl. See 
A. 3469; also A. 1423-4. This description of the Miller should be 
compared with that in A. 3925-3940. 


547. ' That well proved (to be true) ; for everywhere, where he 

548. the ram. This was the usual prize at wrestling-matches. 
Tyrwhitt says— ' Matthew Paris mentions a wrestling- match at West- 
minster, A.D. 1222, at which a ram was the prize.' Cf. Sir Topas, 
B. 1931 ; Tale of Gamelyn, 172, 280. 

549. a thikke knarre, a thickly knotted (fellow), i. e. a muscular fellow. 
Cf. M. E. hior, Mid. Du. knorre, a knot in wood ; and Y^.gtiarled. It is 
worth notice that, in 11. 549-557, there is no word of French origin, 
except /////. 

550. ofharre, off its hinges, lit. hinge. * I horle at the notes, and heve 
hem al ofherre' ; Poem on Singing, in Reliq. Antiquae, ii. 292, Gower 
has out ofherre, off its hinges, out of use, out of joint ; Conf. Amant. 
bk. ii. ed. Pauli, i. 259; bk. iii. i. 318. Skelton has: — 'AH is out of 
harre,' Magnificence, 1. 921. From A.S. heorr, a hinge. 

553. Todd cites from l^WXy^s Midas — * How, sir, will you be trimmed ? 
Will you have a beard like a spade or a bodkin ?' — Illust. of Gower, 
p. 258. 

554. cop, top ; A. S. copp, a top ; cf. G. Kopj. 
557. nose-ihirles, lit. nose-holes ; mod. E. nostrils. 

hh%. forneys. 'Why, asks Mr. Earle, should Chaucer so readily fall 
on the simile of a furnace ? What, in the uses of the time, made it come 
so ready to hand ? The weald of Kent was then, like our "black country " 
now, a great smelting district, its wood answering to our coal ; and 
Chaucer was Knight of the Shire, or M.P. for Kent.' — Temporary 
Preface to the Six-text edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, p. 99. 

560. langlere, loud talker. 

goliardeys, a ribald jester, one who gained his living by following rich 
men's tables, and telling tales and making sport for the guests. Tyrwhitt 
says, * This jovial sect seems to have been so called from Golias, the 
real or assumed name of a man of wit, towards the end of the twelfth 
century, who wrote the Apocalypsis Golise, and other pieces in burlesque 
Latin rhymes, some which have been falsely [.''] attributed to Walter 
Map.' But it would appear that Golias is the sole invention of 
Walter Map, the probable author of the ' Golias ' poems. See Morley's 
Eng. Writers, 1888, iii. 167, where we read that the Apocalypse of 
Golias and the confession of Golias ' have by constant tradition been 
ascribed to him [Walter Map] ; never to any other writer.' Golias is 
a medieval spelling of the Goliath of scripture, and occurs in Chaucer, 
Man of Lawes Tale, B. 934. In several authors of the thirteenth 
century, quoted by Du Cange, the goliardi are classed with the jocii- 
latores et btiffones, and it is very likely that the -wordi goliardtts was, 
originally, quite independent of Golias, which was only connected with 
it by way of jest. The word goliardtis seems rather to have meant, 
originally, ' glutton,' and to be connected with gida, the throat ; but it 
was quite a common term, in the thirteenth century, for certain men 
of some education but of bad repute, who composed or recited satirical 

LI. 547-566.] THE MILLER. 49 

parodies and coarse verses and epigrams for the amusement of the 
rich. See T. Wright's Introduction to the poems of Walter Map 
(Camden Soc.) ; P. Plowman, ed. Skeat, note to B. prol. 139 ; Wright's 
History of Caricature, ch. x ; and the account in Godefroy's O. French 
Diet., s. V. Goliard. 

561. that, i.e. his ' langling,' his noisy talk. 

harlotrye means scurrility ; Wyclif (Eph. v. 4) so translates Lat. 

562. 'Besides the usual payment in money for grinding corn, millers 
are always allowed what is called "toll," amounting to 4 lbs. out of every 
sack of flour.' — Bell. But it can hardly be doubted that, in old times, 
the toll was wholly in corn, not in money at all. It amounted, in fact, to 
the tAventieth or twenty-fourth part of the corn ground, according to the 
strength of the water-course ; see Strutt, .Manners and Customs, ii. 82, 
and Nares, s. v. ToU-dish. At Berwick, the miller's share was reckoned 
as 'the thirteenth part for grain, and the twenty-fourth part for malt.' 
p:ng. Gilds, p. 342. When the miller ' tolled thrice,' he took thrice 
the legal allowance. Cf. A. 3939, 3940. 

563. a thombe 0/ gold. An explanation of this proverb is given on 
the authority of Mr. Constable, the Royal Academician, by Mr. Yanell 
in his History of British Fishes, who, when speaking of the Bullhead 
or Miller's Thumb, explains that a miller's thumb acquires a peculiar 
shape by continually feeling samples of corn whilst it is being 
ground ; and that such a thumb is called golden, with reference to the 
profit that is the reward of the experienced miller's skill. 

'When millers toll not with a golden thumbe.' 

Gascoigne's Steel Glass, 1. 1080. 

Ray's Proverbs give us—' An honest miller has a golden thumb' ; ed. 
1768, p. 136; taken satirically, this means that there are no honest 
millers. Brand, in his Pop. Antiquities, ed. Ellis, iii. '})Z'}, quotes from 
an old play — ' Oh the mooter dish, the viillcr's Thumbe ! ' 

The simplest explanation is to take the words just as they stand, i.e. 
' he used to steal corn, and take his toll thrice ; yet he had a golden 
thumb such as all honest millers are said to have.' 

565. W. Thorpe, when examined by Arundel, archbishop of Canter- 
bury, in 1407, complains of the pilgrims, saying — 'they will ordain to 
have with them both men and women that can well sing wanton songs ; 
and some other pilgrims will have with them bagpipes ; so that every 
town that they come through, what with the noise of their singing, 
and with the sound of their piping, and with the jangling of their 
Canterbury bells, and with the barking out of dogs after them, they 
make more noise than if the king came there away, with all his clarions 
and many other minstrels.' — Arber's Eng. Garner, vi. 84 ; Words- 
worth, Eccl. Biography, 4th ed. i. 312; Cutts, Scenes and Characters, 
p. 179. 

566. 'And with its music he conducted us out of London.' 

V -T* •?• 1j» 

* * *■ 


The Maunciple. 

567. Maunciple or manciple, an officer who had the care of purchas- 
ing provisions for a college, an inn of court, &c. (Still in use.) See 
A. 3993. A temple is here * an inn of court ' ; besides the Inner and 
Middle Temple (in London), there was also an Outer Temple ; see 
Timbs, Curiosities of London, p. 461 ; and the account of the Temple 
in Stow's Survey of London. 

568. which, whom. 

achatotirs, purchasers ; cf. F. acheter, to buy, 

570. took by taille, took by tally, took on credit. Cf. Piers Plowman, 
ed. Wright, vol. i. p. 68, and ed. Skeat (Clarendon Press Series), B. iv. 

'And (he) bereth awey my whete, 
And taketh me but a taille for ten quarters of otes.' 

The buyer who took by tally had the price scored on a pair of sticks; 
the seller gave him one of them, and retained the other himself. * Lordis 
. . . taken pore mennus goodis and paicn not therfore but white 
stickis . . . and sumtyme beten hem whanne thei axen here peye'; 
Wyclif's Works, ed. Matthew, p. 233 (see note at p. 519). 

57 L Algate, in every way, always ; cf prov. Y^.gate, a street. 

achat, buying ; see 1. 568. 

572. ay bi/orn, ever before (others). 

574. S7uich, such ; A. S. swylce. leived, unlearned ; as in 1. 502. 
pace^ pass, i.e. surpass. 

575. heep, heap, i. e. crowd ; like G. Haufe. 
58L ' To make him live upon his own income.' 

582. * Unless he were mad.' See 1. 184. 

583. * Or live as economically as it pleases him to wish to do.' 

584. al a, a whole. Cf. ' all a summer's day ' ; Milton, P. L. 1. 449. 

586. hir alter cappe, the caps of them all. Hir alter =eorum. 
omnium. * To sette ' a man's ' cappe ' is to overreach him, to cheat him, 
or to befool him. Cf. A. 3143. 

The Reve. 

587. I?e7^e. See Prof. Thorold Rogers' capital sketch of Robert 
Oldman, the Cuxham bailiff, a serf of the manor (as reeves always 
were), in his Agriculture and Prices in England, i. 506-510. 

592. Y-lyk, like, y-sen-e, visible ; see note to 1. 134. 

593. ' He knew well how to keep a garner and a bin.' 

597. neet, neat, cattle, dayerye, dairy. 

598. hors, horses ; pi. See note to 1. 74. pultrye, poultry. 

599. hoolly, wholly; from A.S. hal, whole. 

60L Sin, short for sithe7i ; and sitJien, with an added suffix, became 
sithen-s or sithen-ce, mod. E. since. 

LI. 567-623.] THE SOMNOUR. 51 

602. ' No one could prove him to be in arrears.' 

603. herde^ herd, i. e. cow-herd or shep-herd. hyne, hind, farm- 

604. That . . . /ii's, whose ; as in A. 2710. 

covyne, deceit ; lit. a deceitful agreement between two parties to 
prejudice a third. O. F. covine, a project \ from O. F. covefiir, Lat. 
conuenire, to come together, agree. 

605. adrad, afraid ; from the pp. of A. S. ofdrcedan, to terrify greatly. 
the deeth, the pestilence ; see note to 1. 442. 

606. luoning, dwelling-place ; see 1. 388. 

609. asiored {YA\ts. &c.) ; istored {W;xr\.) ; furnished with stores. 
611. lene, lend ; whence E. ien-d. of, some of 

613. viister^ trade, craft ; O. F. mesiier (F. nu'tier), business ; Lat. 
tnitiisterimn. ' Men of all mysteris' ; Barbour's Bruce, xvii. 542. 

614. ivel, very, ivrighie, wright, workman. 

615. stot, probably what we should now call a cob. Prof. J. E. T. 
Rogers, in his Hist, of Agriculture, i. 36, supposes that a stot was 
a low-bred undersized stallion. It frequently occurs with the sense of 
' bullock ' ; see not-e to P. Plowman, C. xxii. 267. 

616. Sir Topas's horse was ' dappel-gray,' which has the same sense 
us pofiiely gray, viz. gray dappled with round apple-like spots. ' Apon 
a cowvsowxQ pouDiIe-grtiy' ; Wyntown, Chron. iv. 217 ; *■ pom ly- gray' ; 
Palladius on Husbandry, bk. iv. 1. 809; 'Upon a pomely palfray ' ; 
Lybeaus Disconus, 844 (in Ritson's Metrical Romances). Florio gives 
Ital. pomellato, ' pide, daple-graie.' The word occurs in the French 
Roman de Troie by Bcnoit de Sainte-Maure, ed. Joly, 10722: — 
'Quant Troylus orent monte Sor un cheval sor pomineU? Cf. G. 559. 

Scot. 'The name given to the horse of the reeve (who lived at 
Bawdeswell, in Norfolk) is a curious instance of Chaucer's accuracy ; 
for to this day there is scarcely a farm in Norfolk or Suffolk, in which 
one of the horses is not called Scot ' ; Bell's Chaucer. Cf. G. 1543. 

617. pers. Some MSS. read bltiu. See note on 1. 439. 

621. Ttikked aboute, with his long coat tucked up round him by 
help of a girdle. In the pictures in the Ellesmere MS., both the 
reeve and the friar have girdles, and rather long coats; cf. D. 1737. 
' He (i. e. a friar) wore a graie cote ■Wfll tucked vnder his corded 
girdle, with a paire of trime white hose'; W. Bullein, A Dialogue 
against the Feuer (E. E. T. S.), p. 68. See Ttick in Skeat, Etym. Diet. 

622. hind-r-este, hindermost ; a curious form, combining both the 
comparative and superlative suffi.xes. Cf. ov-er-est, 1. 290. 

The Somnour. 

623. Somnotir, summoner ; an officer employed to summon delin- 
quents to appear in ecclesiastical courts ; now called an apparitor. 
* The ecclesiastical courts . . . determined all causes matrimonial and 
testamentary. . . . They had besides to enforce the payment of tithes 

£ 2 


and church dues, and were charged with disciplinary power for 
punishment of adultery, fornication, perjury, and other vices which 
did not come under the common law. The reputation of the sum- 
vumer is enough to show how abuses pervaded the action of these 
courts. Prof Stubbs has summed up the case concerning them in his 
Constitutional History, iii. yjj,^ — Wyclifs Works, ed. Matthew, note 
at p. 514. For further information as to the summoner's character, 
see the Frere's Tale, U. 1 299-1 374. 

624. cherubiftncs face. H. Stephens, Apologiefor Herodotus, i. c. 30, 
quotes the same thought from a French epigram — ' Nos grands docteurs 
ail chefubtn visage.' — T. Observe that chertibin (put for cherubim) is 
a plural form. * As the pi. was popularly much better known than the 
singular (e.g. in the Te Deum), the Romanic forms were all fashioned 
on cheriibin, \\z. Ital. cherubino. Span, gtierubin, Port, guertebin, 
cJierubin, F. chcriibin' ; New English Dictionary. Cherubs were 
generally painted red, a fact which became proverbial, as here. Cot- 
grave has: ^ Rouge comvie un cherubin^ red-faced, cherubin-faced, 
having a fierie facies like a Cherubin.' Mrs. Jameson, in her Sacred 
and Legendary Art, has unluckily made the cherubim bhie, and 
the seraphim 7ed\ the contrary was the accepted rule. 

625. sawceflccni or sawsjleeiii, ha\ing a red pimpled face ; lit. 
afflicted with pimples, &c., supposed to be caused by too much salt 
phlegm {sa/sum pJilcgma) in the constitution. The four humours of 
the blood, and the four consequent temperaments, are constantly 
referred to in various ways by early writers — by Chaucer as much as 
by any. Tyrvvhitt quotes from an O. French book on physic (in MS. 
Bodley 761) — ' Gignement magistrel Y>^r sausejleme et pur chescune 
manere de roigtie, where roigne signifies any scorbutic eruption. * So 
(he adds) in the Thousand Notable Things, B. i. 70— "A sawsjieaine 
or red pimpled face is helped with this medicine following : " — two of 
the ingredients are quicksilver and brimstone. In another place, 
B. ii. 20, oyle of tartar is said " to take away cleane all spots, freckles, 
and filthy ivlieaies."' He also quotes, in his Glossary, from MS. 
Bodley 2463 — 'unguentum contra salsuvi flegtiia, scabiem, &c.' 
FlewJiie in the Prompt. Parv. answers to Ijs^.. phlegma. See the long 
note by J. Addis in N. and O. 4 S. iv. 64; Babees Book, ed. 
Furnivall, p. 169, 1. 'JTJ. 'The Greke word that he vsed was t^avOi^- 
ixara, that is, little pimples or pushes, soche as, of cholere and salse 
flegme, budden out in the noses and faces of many persones, and are 
called the Saphires and Rubies of the Tauerne.'— Udall, tr. of Eras- 
mus' Apophthegmes, Diogenes, § 6: [printed false flegme in ed. 
1877.] See 1. 420. 

627. scalled, having the scall or scab, scabby, scurfy. i)iake, black. 
piled, deprived of hair, thin, slight. Cf. E. peel, vb. Palsgrave 
has— ' Pj'lled, as one that wanteth heare' ; and ' Pylled, scal[l]ed.' 
C29. litarge, litharge, a name given to white lead. 
630. Boras, borax. 

LI. 634-662.] THE SOMNOUR. 53 

ceruce, ceruse, a cosmetic made from white lead ; see New E. Diet. 
oille 0/ iar/re, cream of tartar ; potassium bitartrate. 

632. Cf. * Such whelkes [on the head] haue small hoales, out of the 
which matter commeth. . . . And this euill commeth of vicious and 
gleymie [viscous] humour, which commeth to the skin of their head, 
and breedeth therein pimples and luhelks.^ — Batman on Bartholom6, 
lib. 7. c. 3. In the same, lib. 7. c. 67, we read that ' A sauce Jluine face 
is a priuye signe of leprosie.' Cf. Shak. Hen. V. iii. 6. 108. 

635. See Prov. xxxiii. 31. The drinking of strong wine accounts 
for the Somnour's appearance. 'Wyne . . . makith the uisage sake 
Jleuined \m\%^x\vL\^^ fake Jlemed^ rede, and fulle of luhite whelkes'' \ 
Knight de la Tour, p. 116 (perhaps copied from Chaucer). 

643. Can ckpen Watte, i.e. can call Walter (Wat) by his name ; just 
as parrots are taught to say * Poll.' In Political Songs, ed. Wright, 
p. 328, an ignorant priest is likened to a jay in a cage, to which is 
added : ' Go[o]d Engelish he speketh, ac {but'l he wot nevere what ' ; 
referring to the time when Anglo-French was the mother-tongue of 
many who became priests. 

644. ' But if any one could test him in any other point.' 

646. Questto quid iuris. ' This kind of question occurs frequently 
in Ralph de Hengham. After having stated a case, he adds, quid 
juris, and then proceeds to give an answer to it.' — T. It means — 
'the question is, what law (is there).-" i.e. what is the law on this 
point .'' 

647. harlot, fellow, usually one of low conduct ; but originally 
merely a young person, without implication of reproach. See D. 1754. 

649. ' For a bribe of a quart of wine, he would allow a boon com- 
panion of his to lead a vicious life for a whole year, and entirely 
excuse him ; moreover (on the other hand) he knew \ery well how to 
pluck a finch,' i.e. how to get all the feathers off any inexperienced 
person whom it was worth his while to cheat. Cf. ^ a. puked hen' in 
1. 177. With reference to the treatment of the poor by usurers, &c., 
we read in the Rom. of the Rose, 1. 6820, that 'Withoute scalding 
they hem puke,' i.e. pluck them. And see Troil. i. 210. 

654-7. * He would teach his friend in such a case (i.e. if his friend 
led an evil life) to stand in no awe of the archdeacon's curse (excom- 
munication), unless he supposed that his soul resided in his purse ; for 
in his purse [not in his soul] he should be punished' (i.e. by paying 
a good round sum he could release himself from the archdeacon's 
curse). 'Your purse (said he) is the hell to which the archdeacon 
really refers when he threatens you.' See, particularly, Wyclifs 
Works, ed. Matthew, pp. 35, 62, 496. 

661. assoiking, absolution ; from the vb. assoil. 

662. war httn of, i.e. let him beware of; war is the pres. subj. 

significavit, i.e. of a writ de excoinniuiiicato capiendo [or excom- 
munication] which usually began, ' Significavit nobis venerabilis frater,' 
&c. — T. See Significavit in Cowel or Blount. 


663. In daunger, within his jurisdiction, within the reach or control 
of his office ; the true sense of M. E. datinger is ' control ' or * dominion.' 
Thus, in the Romaunt of the Rose, 1. 1470, we find :— 

'Narcisus was a bachelere, 
That Love had caught in his daungere! 

i.e. whom Love had got into his power. So also in 1. 1049 of the 


664. yonge girles, young people, of either sex. In the Coventry 
Mysteries, p. 181, there is mention of 'knave gerlys,' i.e. male children. 
And see gerles in the Gloss, to P. Plowman, and the note to the same, 
C. ii. 29. 

665. and was al hir reed, and was wholly their adviser. 

666. 6G7. gerland. A garland for an ale-stake was distinct from 
a bush. The latter was made of ivy-leaves ; and every tavern had 
an ivy-bush hanging in front as its sign ; hence the phrase, * Good 
wine needs no bush,' &c. But the garland, often used in addition to 
the bush, was made of three equal hoops, at right angles to each other, 
and decorated with ribands. It was also called a hoop. The sompnour 
wore only a single hoop or circlet, adorned with lai'ge flowers (ap- 
parently roses), according to his picture in the EUesmere M S. Emelye, 
in the Knightes Tale, is described as gathering white and red flowers 
to make * a sotil gerland ' for her head ; A. 1054. ' Garlands of flowers 
were often worn on festivals, especially in ecclesiastical processions ' ; 
Rock, Church of our Fathers, ii. 72. Some garlands, worn on the head, 
were made of metal ; see Riley, Memorials of London, p. 133. 

667. ale-stoke, a support for a garland in front of an ale-house. For 
a picture of an ale-stake with a garland, see Hotten's Book of Sign- 
boards. The position of it was such that it did not stand upright, but 
projected horizontally from the side of a tavern at some height from 
the ground, as shewn in Larwood and Hotten's Book of Signboards. 
Hence the enactments made, that it should never extend above the 
roadway for more than seven feet ; see Liber Albus, ed. H. T. Riley, 
1861, pp. 292, 389. Speght wrongly explained ale-stake as 'a May- 
pole,' and has misled many others, including Chatterton, who thus was 
led to write the absurd line — '■Around the ale-stake minstrels sing the 
song ' ; /Ella, st. 30. ' At the ale-stake ' is correct ; see C. 321. 

The Pardoner. 

669. As to the character of the Pardoner, see further in the Par- 
doner's Prologue, C. 329-462 ; P. Plowman, B. prol. 68-82; Heywood's 
Interlude of the Four Ps, which includes a shameless plagiarism from 
Chaucer's Pardoner's Prologue ; and Sir David Lyndesay's Satire of 
the Three Estaits, 1. 2037. Cf. note to C. 349. See also the Essay on 
Chaucer's Pardoner and the Pope's Pardoners, by Dr. J. Jusserand, in 
the Essays on Chaucer (Chaucer Society), p. 423 ; and the Chapter on 

LI. 663-683. THE PARDONER. 


Pardoners in Jusserand's English Wayfaring Life, Jusserand shews 
that Chaucer has not in the least exaggerated ; for exaggeration was 
not possible. 

670. Of Roiincival. Of course the Pardoner was an Englishman, so 
that he could hardly belong to Roncevaux, in Navarre. The reference 
is clearly to the hospital of the Blessed Mary of Rouncyvalle, in the 
parish of St. Martin in the Fields, at Charing (London), mentioned in 
Dugdale's Monasticon, ii. 443. Stow gives its date of foundation as 
the 15th year of Edward IV., but this was only a revival of it, after it 
had been suppressed by Henry V. It was a 'cell' to the Priory of 
Roncevaux in Navarre. See Todd's Illustrations of Gower, p. 263: 
and Rouncival in Nares. Cf. note to 1. 172. 

672. Coin JiideVy love, to vie. ' This, I suppose, was the beginning or 
the burthen of some known song.' — Tyrwhitt. It is quoted again in 
1. 763 of the poem called ' The Pearl,' in the form — ' Come hyder to me, 
my lemman swcte.' /ii'c/er, hither. 

The rime of /o me with R6)ne should be particularly noted, as it 
enables even the reader who is least skilled in English phonology to 
perceive that Ro-mc was really dissyllabic, and that the final c in such 
words was really pronounced. Similarly, in Octouian Imperator, ed. 
AVeber, 1. 1887, we find scint Ja-inc, riming \s'\\.\\ frd me (from me). 
Perhaps the most amusing example of editorial incompetence is seen 
in the frequent occurrenc^of the mysterious word byme in Pauli's 
edition of Gower ; as, e.g. in bk. iii. vol. i. p. 370 : — 

* So woll I nought, that any time 
Be lost, of that thou hast do byme! 

Of course, by me should have been printed as two words, riming with 
ti-mi. This is what happens when grammatical facts are ignored. 
Time is dissyllabic, because it represents the A. S. tima, which is never 
reduced to a monosyllable in A. S. 

673. bar . . . a stif btirdoun, sang the bass. See A. 4165, and 
N. and O. 4 S. vi. 117, 255. Cf. Yx. bourdon, the name of a deep 

675, 676. wex, wax. /teng, hung, stryke o/Jlex, hank of flax. • 

677. By ounces, in small portions or thin clusters. 

679. colpons, portions ; the same word as mod. E. coupon. 

680. y^r lolitee, for greater comfort. He thought it pleasanter to 
wear only a cap (1. 683J. ivcred, wore ; see 1. 75. Cf. G. 571, and the 

C82. the neive let, the new fashion, which is described in 11. 680-683. 

' Also, there is another newe gette, 
A foule waste of clothe and excessyfe, 
There goth no lesse in a mannes typette 
Than of brode cloth a yerde, by my lyfe.' 

Hoccleve, De Regim. Principum, p. 17. 

* Newe lettc, guise nouelle ' ; Palsgrave. 


683. Dischevele, with his hair hanging loose. 

685. verniclc, a small copy of the ' vernicle ' at Rome. Vernicle is 
* a diminutive of Verotii/ce (Veronica), a copy in miniature of the 
picture of Christ, which is supposed to have been miraculously im- 
printed upon a handkerchief preserved in the church of St. Peter at 
Rome. . . It was usual for persons returning from pilgrimages to bring 
with them certain tokens of the several places which they had visited ; 
and therefore the Pardoner, who is just arrived from Rome, is repre- 
sented with a vernicle sowed on his capped- — Tyrwhitt. See the descrip- 
tion of a pilgrim in Piers Plowman, ed. Skeat, B. v. 530, and the note. 
The legend was invented to explain the name. First the name of 
Bernice, taken from the Acts, was assigned to the woman who was 
cured by Christ of an issue of blood. Next, Bernice, otherwise 
Veronica, was (wrongly) explained as meaning vera icon (i.e. true 
likeness), which was assigned as the name of a handkerchief on which 
the features of Christ were miraculously impressed. Copies of this 
portrait were called Veronicae or Veroniculae, in English vernicles, 
and were obtainable by pilgrims to Rome. There was also a later 
St. Veronica, who died in 1497, after Chaucer's time, and whose day 
is Jan. 13. 

See Legends of the Holy Rood, ed. Morris, pp. 170, 171 ; Mrs. 
Jameson's Sacred and Legendary Art, ii. 269 ; Lady Eastlake's History 
of our Lord, i. 41 ; Rock, Church of our Fathers, iii. pt. i. p. 438; and 
the picture of the vernicle in Chambers, Book of Days, i. loi. 

687. Bret-fid of pardon, brim-full (top-full, full to the top) of indul- 
gences. Cf. Swed. brciddfull, brimful ; from brddd, a brim. See 
A. 2164 ; Ho. of Fame, 2123. 

692. fro Beriuik, from Berwick to Ware (in Hertfordshire), from 
North to South of England. See the similar phrase— * From Barwick 
to Dover, three hundred miles over '—in Pegge's Kenticisms (E.D.S.), 
p. 70. 

694. niale^ bag ; cf. E. 7nai/-hag. 

pilwebeer^ pillow-case. Cf. Low. G. biiren, a case (for a pillow), Icel. 
ver^ Dan. vaar, a cover for a pillow. The form pillow-bear occurs as 
a Cheshire word as late as 1782 ; N. and Q. 6 S. xii. 217. 

696. gobet, a small portion ; O. Y.gobet, a morsel ; gober, to devour. 

698. hente, caught hold of; from A.S. henian, to seize. 

699. ' A cross made of latoun, set full of (probably counterfeit) pre- 
cious stones.' Laioicn was a mixed metal, of the same colour as, and 
closely resembling, the modern metal called pinchbeck, from the name 
of the inventor. It was chiefly composed of copper and zinc. See 
further in the note to C. 350 ; and cf. F. 1245. 

701. Cf. Wyclifs Works, ed. Matthew, p. 154; and the note to 

c. 349. 

702. up-on lond, in the country. Country people used to be called 
uplondish vicn. Jack Upland is the name of a satire against the friars. 

705, 706. Japes, deceits, tricks, his apes, his dupes ; cf. A. 3389. 

LI. 683-744] CHAUCER'S APOLOGY. 57 

710. alder-best, best of all ; alder is a later form of alter, from A.S. 
ealra, of all, gen. pi. of eal, all. See 11. 586, 823. 

712, affyle, file down, make smooth. Cf. 'affile His tunge'; Gower, 
C. A. i. 296; 'gan newe his tunge affyle,' Troil. ii. 1681; 'his 
tongue [is] yf/^^/'; Love's Labour's Lost, v. i. 12. So also Spenser, 
F. Q. i. I. 35 ; iii. 2. 12 ; Skelton, Colin Clout, 852. 

Chaucer's Apology. 

716. Thestat, tharray = the estate, the array : the coalescence of the 
article with the noun is very common in !\Iiddle English. 

719. highte, was named ; cf. A.S. hCitan, (i) to call, (2) to be called, 
to be named (with a passive sense). 

721. * How we conducted ourselves that same night.' 

726. ' That ye ascribe it not to my ill-breeding.' tiarc/le, for ne arctte. 
From O.F. arefter, to ascribe, impute ; from Lat. ad ?ind reputare ; see 
Aret in the New E. Diet. Also spelt arate, with the sense ' to chide ' ; 
whence mod. E. to rate. So here the poet implies — * do not rate me 
for my ill-breeding.' The argument here used is derived from Le 
Roman de la Rose, 15361-96. 

727. pieynly speke (Elles. &c.) ; speke al pleyn (Harl.). 
7.SI. shal telle, has to tell, after, according to, just like. 
734. Al speke he, although he speak. See al have /, 1. 744. 
738. ' He is bound to say one word as much as another.' 

741, 742. This saying of Plato is taken from Boethius, De Consola- 
tione, bk. iii. pr. 12, which Chaucer translates: 'Thou hast lerned by 
the sentence of Plato, that nedes the wordes moten be cosines to the 
thinges of which they speken' ; see vol. ii. p. 90, 1. 151. In Le Roman 
de la Rose, 7131, Jean de Meun says that Plato tells us, speech was 
given us to express our wishes and thoughts, and proceeds to argue 
that men ought to use coarse language. Chaucer was thinking of this 
singular argument. We also find in Le Roman (1. 15392) an exactly 
parallel passage, which means in English, 'the saying ought to 
resemble the deed ; for the words, being neighbours to the things, 
ought to be cousins to their deeds.' In the original French, these 
passages stand thus : — 

' Car Platon disoit en s'escole 
Que donnee nous fu parole 
For faire nos voloirs entendre, 
Por enseignier et por aprendre ' ; &c. 

' Li dis doit le fait resembler ; 
Car Ics vois as choses voisines 
Doivent estre a lor faiz cousines.' 

So also in the Manciple's Tale, H. 208. 
744. * Although I have not,' &c. Cf. 1. 734. 


The Host. 

747. Our lioste. It has been remarked that from this character 
Shakespeare's ' mine host of the Garter ' in the Merry Wives of 
Windsor is obviously derived. 

752. The duty of the ' marshal of the hall ' was to place every one 
according to his rank at public festivals, and to preserve order. See 
Babees Book, p. 310. Cf. Spenser, F. Q. v. 9. 23 ; Gower, Conf. Amant. 
jii. 299. Even Milton speaks of a 'warj/m//'^/ feast '; P. L. ix. 37. 

753. stepe, bright; see note to 1. 201. 

754. Chepe, i. e. Cheapside, in London. 

760. maad ourrekeninges, i.e. paid our scores. 

764. / saugh nat (Elles. &c.) ; I 7ie saugh (Harl.). To scan the 
line, read / «' saugh, dropping the e in ne. The insertion of ne is 
essential to the sense, viz. ' I have not seen.' 

.765. herberwe, inn, lit. harbour. The F. auberge is from the O.H.G. 
form of the same word. 

770. ' May the blessed martyr duly reward you ! ' 

772. shapeft yow, intend ; cf 1. 809. talen, to tell tales. 

777. yoiu lyketh alle, it pleases you all ; yoiv is in the dat. case, as 
in the mod. E. ^Myou please.' See note to 1. yj. 

783. * Hold up your hands ' ; to signify assent. 

785. to make it ivysy to make it a matter of wisdom or deliberation ; 
so also viade it strange, made it a matter of difficulty, A. 3980. 

79L *To shorten your way with.' In AL E., the prep, ici/h always 
comes next the verb in phrases of this character. Most MSS. read 
our {or your here, but this is rather premature. The host introduces 
his proposal to accompany the pilgrims by the use of our in I. 799, and 
"we in I. 801 ; the proposal itself comes in 1. 803. 

792. As to the number of the tales, see vol. iii. pp. 374, 384. 

798. ' Tales best suited to instruct and amuse.' 

799. our alter cost, the expense of us all ; here our = A. S. fire, of us ; 
see 11. 710, 823. 

808. 7110, more; A. S. via. In M. E., 7110 generally means 'more in 
number,' whilst 77iore means ' larger,' from A. S. 7/id?-a. Cf. 1. 849. 

810. a7id our othes swore, and %ve swore our oaths ; see next line. 

817. 1/i heigh a7id loive. ' Lat. hi, or de alto et basso, Fr. de haut e7t 
bas, were expressions of entire submission on one side, and sovereignty 
on the other.' — Tyrwhitt. Cotgrave (s. v. Bas) has : — ' Taillables haut 
et bas, taxable at the will and pleasure of their lord.' It here means — 
' under all circumstances.' 

819. fet, fetched ; from A. S./etia/i, to fetch, ^-^./etod. 

822. day. It is the morning of the 17th of April. See note to 1. I. 

823. our alter cok, cock of us all, i. e. cock to awake us all. our 
alter =A..S. fire ealra, both in gen. pi. 

825. ridc7i, rode ; pt. t. pi., as in 1. 856. The / is short. 

pas, a foot-pace. Cf. A. 2897 ; C. 866 ; G. 575 ; Troil. ii. 627. 

LI. 747-856.] THE HOST. 59 

826. St. Thomas a Wa/crtngs was a place for watering horses, at a 
brook beside the second mile-stone on the road to St. Thomas's shrine, 
i.e. to Canterburj'. It Mas a place anciently used for executions in the 
county of Surrey, as Tyburn was in that of Middlesex. See Nares, 
s. V. Waterings. 

828. if yow lesie, if it may please you. The verb lisft'ti made lisle in 
the past tense ; but Chaucer changes the verb to the form lestcn, pt. t. 
leste, probably for the sake of the rime. See 11. 750 and 102. In 
the Knightes Tale, A. 1052, as hir liste rimes with uprisle. 

The true explanation is, that the A. S.y had the sound of mod. G. «. 
In Mid. Eng., this was variably treated, usually becoming either /or 
u\ so that, e.g., the X.S. pyi {a. pit) became M.E.pit or put, the 
former of which has survived. But, in Kentish, the form was^f/; 
and it is remarkable that Chaucer sometimes deliberately adopts 
Kentish forms, as here, for the sake of the rime. A striking example 
is seen in fulfelle for fiilfille, in Troil. iii. 510, to rime with telle. He 
usually \\di%fulfille^ as below, in A. 1318, 2478. 

829. Ye luoflt, ye know. Really false grammar, as the pi. of ivoot 
(originally a past tense) is properly «'//r«, just as the pi. oirood is 7ideii 
in 1. 825. As ivoot was used as a present tense, its original form was 
forgotten. ' Ye know your agreement, and I recall it to your memory.' 
See 1. i^. 

830. ' If 'even-song and matins agree ' ; i.e. if you still say now what 
you said last night. 

832. ' As ever may I be able to drink ' ; i.e. As surely as I ever 
hope to be able, &c. Cf. B. 4490, (Sec. 

833. be^ may be (subjunctive mood). 

835. draweih cut, draw lots ; see C. 793-804. The Gloss, to Allan 
Ramsay's poems, ed. 1721, has — ^ cults, lots. These cuts are usually 
made of straws unequally cut, which one hides between his finger 
and thumb, whilst another draws his fate'; but the verb to cut is 
unallied. See Brand, Pop. Antiq., iii. 337. The one who drew the 
shortest (or else the longest) straw was the one who drew the lot. Cf. 
' Sors, a kut, or a lotte' ; Reliquiae Antiquae, i. 7. 'After supper, we 
drew cuites for a score of apricoks, the longest cut stil to draw an 
apricoke ' ; I^Iarston, Induction to The Malcontent. 

ferrer tivinne, depart further. Here /errer is the comp. oi fer, far. 
Twinnen is to separate, part in twain ; hence, to depart. 

844. sort, lot, destiny ; O. F. sort; cf. E. sort. 

847. as was resoun, as was reasonable or right. 

848. fonvard, agreement, as in 1. 33. compositioioi has almost exactly 
the same sense, but is of French origin. 

853. shal biginne, have to begin. 

854. What; used interjectionally, like the modern E. 'why! ' 

a, in. Here a is for an, a form o{ on ; the A. S. on is constantly used 
with the sense of 'in.' 
856. riden, rodej pt. pi. See 1. 825. 



The Knightes Tale. 

For general remarks on this tale, see vol. iii. p. 389. 

It is only possible to give here a mere general idea of the way in 
which the Knightes Tale is related to the Teseide of Boccaccio. The 
following table gives a sketch of it, but includes many lines wherein 
Chaucer is quite original. The references to the Knightes Tale are 
to the lines of group A (as in the text) ; those to the Teseide are to 
the books and stanzas. 

Kn. Tale. 

18 1 2-1 860 




I. and II. 

II. 2-5, 25-95. 

III. i-ii, 14-20,47, 51-54, 75. 

IV. 26-29, 59- 

V. 1-3, 24-27, iz- 

IV. 13, 14,31,85,84, 17,82. 
VII. 106, 119. 

V. 77-91. 

V. 92-98. 

VII. 108-110, 50-64, 29-37. 

VI. 71, 14-22, 65-70, 8. 

VII. 43-49, 68-93, 23-41, 67, 95- 

99, 7-13, 131, 132, 14, 
100-102, 113-118, 19. 

VIII. 2-131. 

IX. 4-61. 
XII. 80, 83. 

X. 12-112. 

XI. 1-67. 

XII. 3-19, 69-83. 

The MSS. quote a line and a half from Statius, Thebaid, xii. 519, 
520, because Chaucer is referring to that passage in his introductory 
lines to this tale ; see particularly 11. 866, 869, 870. 

There is yet another reason for quoting this scrap of Latin, viz. that 
it is also quoted in the Poem of Anelida and Arcite, at 1. 22, where the 
'Story' of that poem begins ; and 11. 22-25 of Anelida give a fairly 
close translation of it. From this and other indications, it appears 
that Chaucer first of all imitated Boccaccio's Teseide (more or less 
closely) in the poem which he himself calls ' Palamon and Arcite,' of 
which but scanty traces exist in the original form ; and this poem was 
in 7-line stanzas. He afterwards recast the whole, at the same time 
changing the metre ; and the result was the Knightes Tale, as we here 
have it. Thus the Knightes Tale is not derived immediately from 
Boccaccio or from Statius, but iJu-ough the medium of an older poem 

LI. 859-866.} THE KNIGHTES TALE. 6i 

of Chaucer's own composition. Fragments of the same poem were 
used by the author in other compositions ; and the result is, that the 
Teseide of Boccaccio is the source of (i) sixteen stanzas in the 
Parliament of Foules ; (2) of part of the first ten stanzas in Anclida ; 
(3) of three stanzas near the end of Troilus (Tes. xi. 1-3) ; as well as 
of the original Palamon and Arcite and of the Knightes Tale. 

Hence it is that 11. 859-874 and 11. 964-981 should be compared with 
Chaucer's Anelida, 11. 22-46, as printed in vol. i. p. 366. Lines 082 
and 972 are borrowed from that poem with but slight alteration. 

859. The lines from Statius, Theb. xii. 519-22, to which reference is 
made in the heading, relate to the return of Theseus to Athens after 
his conquest of Hippolytfl, and are as follows : — 

lamque domos patrias, Scythicae post aspera gcntis 
Proelia, laurigero subeuntem Thesea curru 
Laetifici plausus, missusque ad sidera uulgi 
Clamor, et emeritis hilaris tuba nuntiat armis.' 

860. Theseus, the great legendary hero of Attica, is the subject of 
Boccaccio's poem named after him the Teseide. He is also the hero 
of the Legend of Ariadne, as told in Chaucer's Legend of Good Women. 
After deserting Ariadne, he succeeded his father Aegeus as king of 
Athens, and conducted an expedition against the Amazons, from which 
he returned in triumph, having carried off their queen Antiope, here 
named Hippolyta. 

8GL govertiour. It should be observed that Chaucer continually 
accents words of Anglo-French origin in the original manner, viz. on 
the last ox on \.\\q penulttinate syllable. Thus we have hert govertiour 
and conquerSiir ; in 1. 865, chivalry -e ; in 1. 869, contrce ; in 1. 876, 
viancre, (Sic. The most remarkable examples are when the words end 
in -oun (11. 893, 935). 

864. contree is here accented on the first syllable ; in 1. 869, on the 
last. This is a good example of the unsettled state of the accents of 
such words in Chaucer's time, which afforded him an opportunity of 
licence, which he freely uses. In fact, contree shows the English, and 
cofttrtfe, the French accent. 

865. chivahye, knightly exploits. In 1. 878, chivalrye means 
* knights ' ; mod. E. chivalry. So also in 1. 9S2. 

866. regne of Fevtenye, the kingdom (Lat. rcgjiutn) of the Amazons. 
Fetnenye is from Lat. feinina, a woman. Cf. Statius, Theb. xii. 578. 
'Amazonia, womens land, is a Country, parte in Asia and parte in 
Europa, and is nigh Albania ; and hath that name of Amazonia of 
women that were the wives of the men that were called Goths, the 
which men went out of the nether Scithia, as Isidore seith, li. 9.' — 
Batman upon Bartholom^, lib. xv. c. 12. Cf. Higden's Polychronicon, 
lib. i. cap. xviii ; and Gower, Conf. Amant., ii. 73 : — 

' Pentasilee, 
Which was the quene of Feminee.' 


867. Sciihea, Scythia. Cf. Scyihicae in the quotation from Statius 
in note to 1. 859. 

868. IpoUta,^\\?^iQ.?,^(i2ix€?, Hippolyta,\n M ids. Night's Dream. The 
name is in Statius, Theb. xii. 534, spelt Hippolyte. 

880. In this line, Atkefies seems to mean ' Athenians,' though else- 
where it means * Athens.' At/u'nes is trisyllabic. 

884. tempest. As there is no mention of a tempest in Boccaccio, 
Tyrwhitt proposed to alter the reading to temple, as there is some 
mention of Theseus offering in the temple of Pallas. But it is very 
unlikely that this would be alluded to by the mere word temple ; and 
we must accept the reading tempest^ as in all the seven MSS. and in 
the old editions. 

I think the solution is to be found by referring to Statius. Chaucer 
seems to have remembered that a tempest is there described (Theb. 
xii. 650-5), but to have forgotten that it is merely introduced by way 
of simile. In fact, when Theseus determines to attack Creon (see 
1. 960), the advance of his host is likened by Statius to the effect of 
a tempest. The lines are : — 

'Qualis Hyperborcos ubi nubilus institit axes 
lupiter, et prima tremefecit sidera bruma, 
Rumpitur Aeolia, et longam indignata quietem 
Tollit hiems animos, uentosaque sibilat Arctos ; 
Tunc montes undaeque fremunt, tunc proelia caesis 
Nubibus, et tonitrus insanaque fulmina gaudent.' 

885. as noiv, at present, at this time. Cf. the M.E. adverbs as-swithe^ 
as-sone^ immediately. From the Rom. de la Rose, 21479 •"" 

'Ne vous voil or ci plus tenir, 
A mon propos m'estuet venir, 
Qu' autre champ me convient arer.* 

889. I wol not letten eek noon of this route, I desire not to hinder eke 
(also) none of all this company. Wol = desire ; cf. ' I will have 
mercy,' <Src. 

890. aboute, i. e. in his turn, one after the other ; corr'esponding to 
the sense 'in rotation, in succession,' given in the New English 
Dictionary. This sense of the word in this passage was pointed out 
by Dr. Kolbing in Engl. Studien, ii. 531. He instanced a similar use 
of the word in the Ormulum, 1. 550, where the sense is—' and ay, when- 
soever that flock of priests, being twenty-four in number, had all served 
once about in the temple.' 

901. creature is here a word of three syllables. In 1. 1 106 it hz-sfottr 

903. fiolde, would not : the A. S. nolde is the pt. t. of 7iyllan, 
equivalent to ne willaii, not to wish ; cf. Lat. noluit, from nolle. 

ste?iten, stop. * It stinted, and said aye.' — Romeo and Juliet, i. 3. 48. 

908. that thtis, i. e. ye that thus. 

911. clothed thus {YA\t5.) ; clad thus al (U^rl). 

LI. 867-977.] THE KNIGHTES TALE. 63 

912. alle is to be pronounced al-li. Tyrwhitt inserts than, then, 
after alle, against the authority of the best MSS. and of the old 

Statius (Theb. xii. 545) calls this lady Capaneia com'ux; see 1. 932, 
below. He says all the ladies were from Argos, and their husbands 
were kings. 

913. a deedly chere, a deathly countenance or look. 

918, we biseken, we beseech, ask for. For such double forms as beseken 
and besechen, cf. mod. Eng. dike and diich, kirk and chirch, sack and 
satchel, stick and stitch. In the Early Eng. period the harder forms with 
k were very frequently employed by Northern writers, who preferred 
them to the palatalised Southern forms (perhaps influenced by Anglo- 
French) with ch. Cf. M. E. brig and rigg with bridge and ridge. 

926. This line means ' that ensureth no estate to be (always) good.' 
Suggested by Boethius ; see bk. ii. pr. 2. 11. 37-41 (vol, ii. p. 27). 

928. Clemence, Clemency, Pity. Suggested by ' il tempio . . . di Cle- 
menza,' Tes. ii. 1 7 ; which again is from ' mitls posuit dementia sedem,' 
Theb. xii. 482. 

932, Capafteus, one of the seven heroes who besieged Thebes : struck 
dead by lightning as he was scaling the walls of the city, because he had 
defied Zeus ; Theb. x. 927, See note to 1. 912, above. 

937. The celebrated siege of ' The Seven against Thebes ' ; Capaneus 
being one of the seven kings. 

941. for despyt, out of vexation ; mod. E, * for spite.' 

942. To do the dede bodyes vileinye, to treat the dead bodies shame- 

948. withouten jnore respyt, without longer delay. 

949. They filCen grttf, they fell flat with the face to the ground. In 
M. E. we find the phrase to fall groifelinges or to fall groveling. See 
Grufynge and Ogrufe in the Catholicon Anglicum, and the editor's 
notes, pp. 166, 259. 

954. Hivithoiighte, it seemed to him ; cf. methinks, it seems to me. 
In M. E, the verbs like, list, seem, rue (pity), are used impersonally, 
and take the dative case of the pronoun. Cf. the modem expression 
' if you please ' = if it be pleasing to you. 

955, mat, dejected. ' Ententyfly, not feynt, wery ne mate.^ — Hardyng, 
p. 129. — M. 

^^(). ferforthly, \.t. far-forth-like, to such an extent. 

965, abood, delay, awaiting, abiding. 

966. His bafier he desplayeth, i. e, he summons his troops to assemble 
for militar)' service. 

968. No neer, no nearer. Accent Athen-es on the second syllable ; 
but in 1. 973 it is accented on they?r^/. 

970. lay, lodged for the night. 

975. statue, the image, as depicted on the banner. 

977. feeldes, field, is an heraldic term for the ground upon which the 
various charges, as they are called, are emblazoned. Some of this 


description was suggested by the Thebais, lib. xii. 665, «S:c. ; but the 
resemblance is very slight. 

978. penoitn, pennon, y-bete, beaten ; the gold being hammered out 
into a thin foil in the shape of the Minotaur ; see Marco Polo, ed. Yule, 
i. 344. But, in the Thebais, the Minotaur is upon Theseus' shield, 

988. In plcyn baiaille, in open or fair fight. 

993. obsequies (Elles., &c.) ; exiqiiies (Harl.) ; accented on the second 

1004. as hi?n lestc, as it pleased him. 

1005. taSy heap, collection. Some MSS. read^rtj (caas), which might 
= downfall, ruin, Lat. casus ; but, as c and / are constantly confused, 
this reading is really due to a mere blunder. Gower speaks of gathering 
'a iasse' of sticks ; Conf. Amant. bk. v. ed. Pauli, ii. 293. Palsgrave 
has—* On a heape, en vttg /as' ; p. 840. Hexham's Dutch Diet. (1658) 
has — 'een Tas, a Shock, a Pile, or a Heape.' Chaucer found the word 
in Le Roman de la Rose, 14870 : * ung tas de paille,' a heap of straw. 

1006. hartleys. * And ari)ia be not taken onely for the instruments 
of al maner of crafts, but also for hartleys and weapon ; also standards 
and banners, and sometimes battels.' — Bossevvell's Armorie, p. i, ed. 
1597. Cf. 1. 1613. 

1010. Thitrgh-giri, pierced through. This line is taken from 
Troilus, iv. 627 : * Thourgh-girt with many a wyd and blody wounde.' 

1011. liggyng by and by, lying near together, as in A. 4143; the 
usual old sense being ' in succession,' or ' in order ' ; see examples in 
the New Eng. Diet., p. 1233, col. 3. In later English, by and by 
signifies presently, immediately, as * the end is not by and by.' 

1012. in oon artnes, in one (kind of) arms or armour, shewing that 
they belonged to the same house. Chaucer adapts ancient history to 
medieval time throughout his works. 

1015. Nat fully quike, not wholly alive. 

1016. by Mr cote-artmeres, by their coat-armour, by the devices on 
the vest worn above the armour covering the breast. The cote-armure, 
as explained in my note to Barbour's Bruce, xiii. 183, was 'of no use 
as a defence, being made of a flimsy material ; but was worn over the 
true armour of defence, and charged with armorial bearings' ; see 
Ho. Fame, 1 326. Cf. 1. loi 2. by hirgere, by their ^^t-^r, i. e. equipments. 

1018. they. Tyrwhitt (who relied too much on the black-letter 
editions) reads tho, those ; but the seven best MSS. have they. 

1023. Tathenes, to Athens (Harl. MS., which reads /(3r to for to). 
Cf. tallegge, 1. 3000 (foot-note). 

1024. he nolde no raunsoim, he would accept of no ransom. 

1029. Terme of his lyf the remainder of his life. Cf. ' The end 
and term of natural philosophy.' — Bacon's Advancement of Learning, 
Bk. ii. p. 129, ed. Aldis Wright. 

1035. Cf. Leg. of Good Women, 2425, 2426. 

1038. stroofhirhewe, strove her hue; i.e. her complexion contested 
the superiority with the rose's colour. 

LI. 978-1089.1 THE KNIGHTES TALE. 65 

1039. I ft oof, I know not ; nooi=ne woot. 

1047. May. 'Against Maie, every parishe, towne, and village, 
assembled themselves together, bothe men, women, and children, olde 
and yonge, even all indifferently, and either going all together or 
devidyng themselves into companies, they goe, some to the woodes and 
groves, some to the hills and mountaines, some to one place, some to 
another, where they spend all the night in pastimes ; in the morninge 
they return, bringing with them birche, bowes and branches of trees, to 
deck their assemblies withalle.' — Stubbes, Anatomy of Abuses, ed. 1 585, 
leaf 94 (ed. Furnivall, p. 149). See also Strutt, Manners and Customs, 
iii. 177. Cf. Midsummer Night's Dream, i. i. 167 : — 

* To do observance to a mom of May.' 

See also I. 1500, and the note. 

1049. Hir yelowheer wasbroyded, her yellow hair was braided. Yellow 
hair was esteemed a beauty ; see Seven Sages, 477, ed. Weber ; King 
Alisaunder, 207; and the instances in Burton, Anat. of Melancholy, 
pt. 3. sec. 2. mem. 2. subsec. 2. Boccaccio has here — * Co' biondi crini 
avvolti alia sua testa' ; Tes. iii. 10. 

1051. the softneuprisie, the sun's uprising; the -e in sonne represents 
the old genitive inflexion. Upriste is here the dat. of the sb. uprist. 
It occurs also in Gower, Conf. Amantis, bk. i.ed. Pauli, i. 116. 

1052. as Jiir liste, as it pleased her. 

1053. party, partly ; Fr. en parti c. 

1054. sotil gerlattd, a subtle garland ; subtle has here the exact force 
of the Lat. snbtilis, finely woven. 

1055. Cf * Con angelica voce' ; Tes. iii. 10: and Troil. ii. 826. 

1060. evene-Ioytiafit, joining, or adjoining. 

1061. Ther as this Emelye hadde hir pieyinge, i.e. where she was 
amusing herself. 

1063. In the Teseide (iii. li) it is Arcite who first sees Emily. 

1074. by aventure or cas, by adventure or hap. 

1076. sparre, a square wooden bolt ; the bars, which were of iron, 
were as thick as they must have been if wooden. See 1. 990. 

1078. bleynte,\\i^ past tense oi blcnche ox blenke (to blench), to start, 
draw back suddenly. Cf. dreynie, pt. t. of drenchen. ' Tutto stordito, 
Grido, Om^ ! ' Tes. iii. 17. 

1087. Sam ivikke aspect. Cf. * wykked planete, as Saturne or Mars,' 
Astrolabe, ii. 4. 22 ; notes in Wright's edition, 11. 2453, 2457 ; and Piers 
the Plowman, B. vi. 327 ; and see Leg. of Good Women, 2590-7. Add 
to these the description of Saturn : ' Significat in quartanis, lepra, scabie, 
in mania, carcere, siibmersione, &c. Est infortuna.' — Johannis Hispa- 
lensis, Isagoge in Astrologiam, cap. xv. See A. 1328, 2469. 

1089. al-though, &c., although we had sworn to the contrary. Cf. 
'And can nought flee, if I had it sworn'; Lydgate, Dance of Machabre 
(The Sergeaunt). Also — * he may himselfe not sustene Upon his feet, 
thotigh he had itsworne'; Lydgate, Siege of Thebes (The Sphinx), pt. i. 


' Thofe the rede knyghte had sivome, 
Out of his sadille is he borne.' 

Sir Percevallc, 1. 6i. 

1091. ihc short atid ^leyn, the brief and manifest statement of the 
case. Pronounce tliis is as this ; as frequently elsewhere ; see 1. 1743, 
E. 56, F. 889. 

1100. Cf. ' That cause is of my torment and my sorwc': Troil. v. 654, 

1101. Cf. ' But whether goddesse orwomman, y-wis, She be, I noot'; 
Troil. i. 425. 

ivher, a very common form for 7uhether. 

1105. Yow (used reflexively), yourself. 

1106. wrccche, wretched, is a word of two syllables, like wikke, wicked, 
where the d is a later and unnecessary addition. 

1 108. shapen, shaped, determined. * Shades our ends.' — Shakespeare, 
Hamlet, v. 2. 10. Cf. 1. 1225. 

1120. * And except I have her pity and her favour.' 

1121. atte leesie weye, at the least. Cf. leastwise=at the leastwise : 
'■at leastwise''^ Bacon's Advancement of Learning, ed. Wright, p. 146, 
1. 23. See English Bible (Preface of ' The Translators to the Reader'). 

1122. * I am not but (no better than) dead, there is no more to say.' 
Chaucer uses ne — but much in the same way as the Fr. 7ie — que. Cf. 
North English ' I'm nobbut clemmed ' = 1 am almost dead of hunger. 

1126. by viy fey, by my faith, in good faith. 

1127. 7>ie list fid yvele phye, it pleaseth me very badly to play. 

1128. This debate is an imitation of the longer debate (in the Teseide), 
where Palamon and Arcite meet in the grove ; cf. 1. 1580 below. 

1129. // nere=it were not, it would not be. 

1132. * It was a common practice in the middle ages for persons to 
take formal oaths of fraternity and friendship ; and a breach of the oath 
was considered something w'orse than perjury. This incident enters 
into the plots of some of the medieval romances. A curious example will 
be found in the Romance of Athelston ; Rehquias Antique, ii. 85.' — 
Wright. A note in Bell's Chaucer reminds us that instances occur also 
in the old heroic times ; as in the cases of Theseus and Peirithous, 
Achilles and Patroclus, Pylades and Orestes, Nysus and Euryalus. 
See Sworn Brothers in Nares' Glossary; Rom. of the Rose, 2884. 

1133. * That never, even though it cost us a miserable death, a death 
by torture.' So in Troilus, i. 674 : * That certayn, for to deyen in the 
peyne.' Also in the E. version of The Romaunt of the Rose, 3326. 

1134. * Till that death shall part us two.' Cf. the ingenious alteration 
in the Marriage Service, where the phrase ' till death us depart ' was 
altered into ' do part' in 1661. 

1136. cas, case. It properly means event, hap. See 1. 1074. 

7>iy leve brother^ my dear brother. 

1141. ottt o/doute^ without doubt, doubtless. 

1147. to my counseil, to my adviser. See 1. 1 161. 

1151. I dar wel seyn, I dare maintain. 

LI. 1091-300.] THE KNIGHTES TALE. 67 

1153. Thou shall be. Chaucer occasionally uses j//a// in the sense of 
owe, so that the true sense oi I shall is I owe (Lat. debeo) ; it expresses 
a strong obligation. So here it is not so much the sign of a future tense 
as a separate verb, and the sense is ' Thou art sure to be false sooner 
than I am.' 

1155. par amour, with love, in the way of love. To \o\c. par a7nour 
is an old phrase for to love excessively. Cf. Bruce, xiii. 485 ; and see 
A. 21 12, below ; Troil. v. 158, 332. 

1158. affecciou7i 0/ holinesse, a sacred affection, or aspiration after. 

1162. I pose, I put the case, I will suppose. 

1 163. ' Knowest thou not well the old writer's saying ? ' The olde clerk 

is Boethius, from whose book, De Consolatione Philosophiae, Chaucer 

has borrowed largely in many places. The passage alluded to is in 

lib. iii. met. 12 : — 

* Quis legem det amantibus ? 

Maior lex amor est sibi.' 

Chaucer's translation (vol. ii. p. 92, 1. 37) has — * But what is he that 

may yive a lawe to loveres ? Love is a gretter lawe . . . than any lawe 

that men may yeven.' And see Troil. iv. 618. 

1167. and swich decree, and (all) such ordinances. 

1168. in ech degree, in every rank of life. 

1172. And eek it is, Sec, 'and moreover it is not likely that ever in 
all thy life thou wilt stand in her favour.' 

1177. This fable, in this particular form, is not in any of the usual 
collections ; but it is, practically, the same as that called ' The Lion, 
the Tiger, and the Fox ' in Croxall's yEsop. Sometimes it is ' the Lion, 
the Bear, and the Fox ' ; the Fox subtracts the prey for which the 
others fight. It is no. 247 in Halm's edition of the ' Fabulae y^sopicae,' 
Lips., Teubner, 1852, with the moral : — 6 fxvdos 8r)\()i, on a\\u>u 
KoniuvTuiv uXXot K€p8aLvov<nv, In La Fontaine's Fables, it appears as 
Les Voleurs et I'Ane. Thynne coolly altered kj/e to cur, and then had 
to insert so after 7i'ere to fill up the line. 

1186. everich of us, each of us, every one of us. 
1189. to theffect, to the result, or end. 
1196. From the Legend of Good Women, 2282. 
1200. in helle. An allusion to Theseus accompanying Pirithous in 
his expedition to carry off Proserpina, daughter of Aidoneus, king of 
the Molossians, when both were taken prisoner, and Pirithous torn in 
pieces by the dog Cerberus. At least, such is the story in Plutarch ; 
see Shakespeare's Plutarch, ed. Skeat, p. 289. Chaucer found the 
mention of Pirithous' visit to Athens in Boccaccio's Teseide, iii. 47-51. 
The rest he found in Le Roman de la Rose, 81 86^ 
* Si cum vesquist, ce dist I'istoire, 
Pyrithous apres sa mort, 
Que Theseus tant ama mort. 
Tant le queroit, tant le sivoit . . . 
Que vis en enfer I'ala querre.' 
F 2 


1201. Observe the expression to ivryte, which shews that this story 
was not originally meant to be told. (Anglia, viii. 453.) 

1212. Most MSS. read or stoiende, i.e. or at any hour. MS. Dd. 
has stound, one moment, any short interval of time. 

* The storme sesed within a stounde.' 

Ywaine and Gawin, 1. 384. 

On this slight authority, Tyrwhitt altered the reading, and is 
followed by Wright and Bell, though MS. HI. really has or like the 
rest, and the black-letter editions have the same. 

1218. Jiis nekke lyth to wedde, his neck is in jeopardy; lit. lies in 
pledge or in pawn. 

1222. To sleen himself he wayteih prively^ he watches for an oppor- 
tunity to slay himself unperceived. 

1223. This line, slightly altered, occurs also in the Legend of Good 
Women, 658. 

1225, Now is me shape^ now I am destined ; literally, now is it shaken 
(or appointed) for me. 

1247. It was supposed that all things were made of the four elements 
mentioned in 1. 1 246. * Does not our life consist of the four elements ? ' — 
Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, ii. 3. 10. 

1255. Cf. P. Plowman, C. xiii. 236. 

1257. ' And another man would fain (get) out of his prison.' 

1259. mat ere ; in the matter of thinking to excel God's providence. 

1260. 'We never know what thing it is that we pray for here below.' 
See Romans viii. 26. 

1261. dronke is as a motis. This phrase seems to have given way to 
* drunk as a rat.' ' Thus satte they swilling and carousyng, one to 
another, till they were both as dronke as rattes^ — Stubbes, 'Anatomie of 
Abuses; ed. Furnivall, p. 113. 

* I am a Flemying, what for all that, 
Although I wyll be dronken otherwhyles as a rat} 

Andrew Boorde, ed. Furnivall, p. 147. 

Cf. 'When that he is dronke as a dreyftt mons '; Ritson, Ancient Songs, 
i. 70 (Man in the Moon, 1. 31). 'And I will pledge Tom Tosspot, till 
I be drunk as a mouse-a''\ Old Plays, ed. Hazlitt, iii. 339. See also 
Skelton, Colin Clout, 803 ; and D. 246. 

1262. This is from Boethius, De Consolatione, lib. iii. pr. 2 : * But 
I retorne ayein to the studies of men, of whiche men the corage alwey 
reherseth and seketh the sovereyn good, al be it so that it be with 
a derked memorie ; but he not by whiche path, right as a dronken man 
not nat by whiche path he may retorne him to his hoiis' — Chaucer's 
Translation of Boethius ; vol. ii. p. 54, 1. 57. 

1264. j/zV/^r, slippery ; as in the Legend of Good Women, 1. 648. Cf. 
the gloss — ' Ltibricitm, slidere '; Reliquiae Antiquae, i. 7. 

1279. pure fettres, the very fetters. * So in the Duchesse, 1. 583, the 
pure deeth. The Greeks used Ka^upo'y in the same sense.' — Tyrwhitt. 

LI. 1201-376.] THE KNIGHTES TALE. 69 

1283. at thy large, at large. Cf. 1. 2288. 

1302. 'White like box-wood, or ashen-gray'; cf. 1. 1364. Cf. 'And 
pale as box she wex'; Legend of Good Women, 1. 866. Also 'asshen 
pale and dede ' ; Troil. ii. 539. 

1308. Copied in Lydgate's Horse, Sheep, and Goose, 124: — 'But 
here this schepe, rukkyng in his folde.' ' Rukkun, or cowre down ' ; 
Prompt. Parv. In B. 4416, MSS. Cp. Pt. Ln. have rouking in place 
of lurking. 

1317. to letten of his wtlle, to refrain from his will (or lusts). 

1333. Cf. the phrase 'paurosa gelosia'; Tes. v. 2. 

1344. upon his heed, on pain of losing his head. * Froissart has sur 
sa teste, sur la teste, and sur peine de la teste.'— 1, 

1347. this questioun. 'An implied allusion to the medieval courts of 
love, in which questions of this kind were seriously discussed.' — Wright. 

1366. making his vione, making his complaint or moan. 

1372. * In his changing mood, for all the world, he conducted himself 
not merely like one suifering from the lover's disease of Eros, but 
rather (his disease was) like mania engendered of melancholy humour.' 
This is one of the numerous allusions to the four humours, viz. the 
choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine, and melancholic. An excess of the 
latter was supposed to produce 'melancholy madness.' gere, flighty 
manner, changeableness ; 'Siche wilde g'erys hade he mo'; Thornton 
Romances, Sir Percival, 1. 1353. See note to 1. 1536. 

1376. in his cellefantastyk. Tyrwhitt reads Beforne his hed in his 
celle fantastike. EUes. has Biforn his owene celle fantastik. ' The 
division of the brain into cells, according to the different sensitive 
faculties, is very ancient, and is found depicted in medieval manuscripts. 
1\\G fantastic cell {fantasia) was in front of the head.' — Wright. Hence 
Biforen means ' in the front part of his head.' 

* Madnesse is infection of the fonnost eel of the head, with priuation 
of imagination, lyke as melancholye is the infection of the middle cell 
of the head, with priuation of reason, as Constant, saith in libra de 
Melancolia. Melancolia (saith he) is an infection that hath mastry of 
the soule, the which commeth of dread and of sorrow. And these 
passions be diuerse after the diuersity of the hurt of their workings ; 
for by madnesse that is called Mania, principally the imagination is 
hurt ; and in the other reson is hurted.' — Batman upon Bartholome, 
lib. vii. c. 6. Vincent of Beauvais, bk. xxviii. c. 41, cites a similar 
statement from the Liber de Anatomia, w-hich begins : — ' Cerebrum 
itaque tribus cellulis est distinctum. Duae namque meringes cerebri 
faciunt tres plicaturas inter se denexas, in quibus tres sunt cellulae : 
phantastica scilicet ab anteriori parte capitis, in qua sedem habet 
imaginatio.' So in Batman upon Bartholom^, lib. v. c. 3: — 'The 
Braine ... is diuided in three celles or dens ... In the formost cell . . . 
imagination is conformed and made ; in the middle, reason ; in the 
hindermost, recordation and minde' [memory]. Cf. also Burton, Anat. 
of Melancholy, pt. 2. sec. 3. mem. i. subsec. 2. 


1385-8. Probably from Claudian, De Raptu Proserpinae, i. ^^ :— 

' Cyllenius astitit ales, 
Somniferam quatiens uirgam, tectusque galero.' 
See Lounsbury, Studies, ii. 382. 

1390. Argtis, Argus of the hundred eyes, whom Mercury charmed 
to sleep before slaying him. Ovid, Met. i. 714. 

1401. Cf. ' Hir face . . . Was al ychaunged in another kinde'; Troil. 
iv. 864. 

1405. bar htm lowe^ conducted himself as one of low estate. Cf. E. 

1409. Cf. * in maniera di pover vallctto '; Tes. iv. 22. 

1428. In the Teseide, iv. 3, he takes the name of Pcnteo. Philostrato 
is the name of another work by Boccaccio, answering to Chaucer's 
Troilus. The Greek (juXoaTpaTos means, literally, 'army-lover'; but 
it is to be noted that Boccaccio did not so understand it. He actually 
connected it with the Lat. strahis, and explained it to mean ' vanquished 
or prostrated with love'; and this is how the name is here used. 

1444. slyly, prudently, wisely. The M. E. sleigh, j/y = wise, knowing ; 
and j/^/o/i/=: wisdom, knowledge. (For change of meaning compare 
cunning, originally knowledge ; craft, originally power ; art, <S:c.) 

* Ne swa sleygh payntur never nan was, 
Thogh his slcght mught alle other pas, 
That couthe ymag^n of )>air [devils'] grj'slynes.' 

Hampole's Pricke of Consc, 11. 2308, 2309. — M. 

1463. The third night is followed by the fourth day ; so Palamon 
and Arcite meet on the 4th of May (1. 1574), which was a Friday 
(1. 1534) ; the first hour of which was dedicated to Venus (1. 1536) 
and to lovers' vows (1. 1501), The 4th of May was a Friday in 1386. 

1471. clarree. ' The French term £■/«?-/ seems simply to have denoted 
a' clear transparent wine, but in its most usual sense a compounded 
drink of wine with honey and spices, so delicious as to be comparable 
to the nectar of the gods. In Sloane MS. 2584, f. 173, the following 
directions are found for making clarre : — " Take a galoun of honi, and 
skome (skim) it wel, and loke whanne it is isoden (boiled), that ther be 
a galoun ; thanne take viii galouns of red wyn, than take a pound of 
pouder canel (cinnamon), and half a pounde of pouder gynger, and 
a quarter of a pounde of pouder peper, and medle (mix) alle these 
thynges togeder and (with) the wyn ; and do hym in a clene barelle, 
and stoppe it fast, and rolle it wel ofte sithes, as men don verious, 
iii dayes." '—Way ; note to Prompt. Parv., p. 79. ' The Craft to make 
Clarre' is also given in Arnold's Chronicle of London ; and see the 
Gloss, to the Babees Book. See Rom. of the Rose, 5971. 

1472. Burton mentions ' opium Thebaicum,' which produced stupe- 
faction ; Anat. Met. pt. 3. sec. 2. mem. 6. subsec. 2. The words ' Opium 
Thebaicum' are written in the margin in MSS. E. and Hn. 

LI. 1385-5341 THE KNIGHTES TALE. 71 

1477. nedes-cost, for needcs cos/e, by the force of necessity. It seems 
to be equivalent to M.E. needes-wyse, of necessity. Alre-coste (Ice- 
landic alls-kosiar^ in all respects) signifies 'in every wise.' It occurs 
in Old English Homilies (ed. Morris), part i. p. 21 : 'We ne majen 
alre-coste halden Crist(es) bibode,' we are not able in every wise 
to keep Christ's behests. The right reading in Leg. Good Women, 
2697, is : — 

'And nedes cost this thing mot have an ende.' 

1494. A beautiful line ; but copied from Dante, Purg. i. 20 — * Faceva 
tutto rider I'oriente.' 

1500. See note to 1. 1047, where the parallel line from Shakespeare 
is quoted. And cf. Troil. ii. 112 — * And lat us don to Maysom observ- 
aunce.' See the interesting article on May-day Customs in Brand's 
Popular Antiquities (where the quotation from Stubbes will be found) ; 
also Chambers, Book of Days, i. 577, where numerous passages relating 
to May are cited from old poems. An early passage relative to the 
1st of May occurs in the Orologium Sapicntiae, printed in Anglia, 
X. 387 :- ' And thanne is the custome of dyuerse contrees that yonge 
folke gone on the nyghte or erely on the morow to Medowes and 
woddes, and there they kutten downe bowes that haue fayre grene 
levcs, and arayen hem with flowres ; and after they setten hem byfore 
the dorcs where they trowe to haue amykes [friends .''] in her lovers, 
in token of frendschip and trewe loue.' And see ^lay-day in Nares. 

1502. From the Legend of Good Women, 1204. 

1508. Were ;/ = if it were only. 

1509. So in Troilus, ii. 920: — 

' Ful loude sang ayein the mone shene.' 

1522. * Veld haue¥ hege, and wude haue^ heare,' i.e. ' Field hath 
eye, and wood hath ear.' 

' Campus habet lumen, et habet nemus auris acumen,' 

This old proverb, with Latin version, occurs in MS. Trin. Coll. Cam. 
O. 2. 45, and is quoted by Mr. T. Wright in his Essays on England in 
the Middle Ages, vol. i. p. 168. Cf. Cotgrave's F. Diet. s. v. Oeillct. 

' Das Feld hat Augen, der Wald hat Ohren ' ; Ida von Diiringsfeld, 
Sprichworter, vol. i. no. 453. 

1524. at unset stevene, at a meeting not previously fixed upon, an 
unexpected meeting or appointment. This was a proverbial saying, 
as is evident from the way in which it is quoted in Sir Eglamour, 1282 
(Thornton Romances, p. 174) : — 

' Ilyf ys sothe seyde^ be God of heven, 
Mony metyn at on-sett stevyn.' 
Cf. * Wee may chance to meet with Robin Hood 
Here ait so>ne unset t steven.^ 

Robin Hood and Guy of Gisbome ; in Percy's 
Reliques of Eng. Poetry. 


' Thei sette7i steiien^ they made an appointment ; Knight de la Tour- 
Landry, ch. iii. And see below, The Cokes Tale : 

' And ther they sette7i steven for to mete '; A. 4383- 

1531. hir gtieynie geres, their strange behaviours. 

1532. Now in the top (i.e. elevated, in high spirits), now down in 
the briars (i. e. depressed, in low spirits). 

' Alias ! where is this worldes stabilnesse ? 
 Here up, here doime\ here honour, here repreef; 
Now hale, now sike ; now bounty, now myscheef.' 

Occleve, De Reg. Princip. p. 2. 

1533. boket in a luelle. Cf. Shakespeare's Richard II., iv. i. 184. 
' Like so many buckets in a well ; as one riseth another falleth, one's 
empty, another's full.'— Burton's Anat. of Mel. p. 33. 

1536. gery, changeable ; so also ger/iil in 1. 1538. Observe also the 
sb. gere, a changeable mood, in 11. 1372, 1531, and Book of the 
Duchesse, 1257. This very scarce word deser\-es illustration. Matz- 
ner's Dictionary gives us some examples. 

* By revolucion and turning of the yere 
A gery March his stondis doth disclose, 
Nowe reyne, nowe stonne, nowe Phebus bright and clere.' 

Lydgate, Minor Poems, p. 24. 

' YL^r gery laces,' their changeful ribands ; Richard Redeless, iii. 130. 

* Now gerysshe, glad and anoon aftir wrothe.' 

Lydgate, Minor Poems, p. 245. 
' In gerysshe Marche '; id. 243. ' Gerysshe, wylde or lyght-headed '; 
Palsgrave's Diet., p. 313. In Skelton's poem of Ware the Hauke 
(ed. Dyce, i. 157) we find : — 

* His seconde hawke wexid gety. 
And was with flying wery.' 

Dyce, in his note upon the word, quotes two passages from Lydgate's 
Fall of Princes, B. iii. c. 10. leaf 77, and B. vi. c. I. leaf 134. 

* Howe gc'ry fortune, fur>^ous and wode.' 

* And, as a swalowe gery she of her flyghte, 

Twene slowe and swyfte, now croked, now upright.' 

Two more occur in the same, B. iii. c. 8, and B. iv. c. 8. 
' The gery Romayns, stormy and unstable.' 
' The geryshe quene, of chere and face double.' 

See also in his Siege of Troye, ed. 1555, fol. B 6, back, col. 2 ; &c. 

1539. A writer in Notes and Queries quotes the following Devonshire 
proverb : ' Fridays in the week are never aleek,' i. e. Fridays are unlike 
other days. < Vendredy de la semaine est 

Le plus beau ou le plus laid ' ; 

Recueil des Contes, par A. Jubinal, p. 375. 


1566. Compare Legend of Good Women, 2629 : — 

' Sin first that day that shapen was my sherte, 
Or by the fatal sustren had my dom.' 

So also in Troil. iii. 733. 

1593. / drede noghi, I have no fear, I doubt not. 

1594. outher . . . or = either ... or. 

1609. To darreyne htr, to decide the right to her. Spenser is very 
fond of this word ; see Y. Q. i. 4. 40 ; i. 7. 1 1 ; ii. 2. 26 ; iii. i. 20 ; iv. 4. 
26, 5. 24 ; V. 2. 15 ; vi. 7. 41. See dcraistner in Godefroy's O. Fr. Diet. 

1622. to borwe. This expression has the same force as to Tuedde, in 
pledge. See 1. 1218. 

1625, The expression 'sooth is seyd' shews that Chaucer is here 
introducing a quotation. The original passage is the following, from 
the Roman de la Rose, 8487 : — 

' Bien savoient cele parole, 
Qui n'est mengongiere ne fole : 
Qu'onques Amor et Seignorie 
Ne s'entrefirent companie, 
Ne ne demorerent ensemble.' 

Again, the expression ' cele parole ' shews that Jean de Meun is also 
here quoting from another, viz. from Ovid, Met. ii. 846 : — 

* Non bene conueniunt, nee in una sede morantur 
IMaiestas et Amor.' 

1626. his tha?ikes, willingly, with good-will ; cf. 1. 2107. Cf. ^L E. 
myn unthottkes =■ ingratis. ' He faught with them in batayle their 
tinthankes'' \ Hardyng's Chronicle, p. 112. — M. 

1638. Cf. Teseide, vii. 106, 119 ; Statius, Theb. iv. 494-9. 
1654. Foynetty thrust, push. It is a mistake to explain this, as usual, 
by * fence,' as fence ( = defence) suggests parrying ; whereas foinen 
means to thrust or push, as in attack, not as in defence. It occurs 
again in 1. 2550. Hence it is commonly used of the pushing with 

' With speres ferisly [fiercely] they foynede.' 

Sir Degrevant, 274 (Thornton, Rom. p. 188). 

Strutt (Sports and Pastimes, bk. iii. c. I. § 32) explains that a thrust 
is more dangerous than a cut, and quotes the old advice, that ' to foyne 
is better than to smyte.' ' And there kyng Arthur smote syr Mordred 
vnder the shelde wyth ?l foyne of his spere thorughoute the body more 
than a fadom ' ; Sir T. Malory, Morte Darthur, bk. xxi. c. 4. This was 
a foine indeed ! 

1656. Deficient in the first foot. Scan : — In | his fight | ing, &c. 
The usual insertion of as before a is wholly unauthorised. 

1665. hath seyn dtforn, hath foreseen. Cf. Teseide, vi. i. 


1668. From the Tcseide, v. TJ. Compare the medieval proverb :— 
* Hoc facit una dies quod totus denegat annus.' Quoted in Die 
alteste deutsche Litteratur ; by Paul Piper (1884) ; p. 283. 

1676. ther daiueth him no day, no day dawns upon him. 

1678. hunte^ hunter, huntsman ; whence Hunt as a surname. I find 
this form as late as in Gascoigne's Art of Venerie : * I am the Hunte^\ 
Works, ed. Hazlitt, ii. 306. 

1698. Similarly, Adrastus stopped the fight between Tydeus and 
Polynices ; Statins, Theb. i. Lydgate describes this in his Siege of 
Thebes, pt. ii, and takes occasion to borrow several expressions from 
this part of the Knightes Tale. 

1706. Ho, an exclamation made by heralds, to stop the fight. It 
was also used to enjoin silence. See 11. 2533, 2656 ; Troil. iv. 1242. 

1707. Uppcyne is the old phrase ; as in ' up peyne of emprisonement 
of 40 days'; Riley's Memorials of London, p. 580. 

1736. ita7n I. 'This is the regular construction in early English. 
In modern English the pronoun // is regarded as the direct nominative, 
and /as forming part of the predicate.' — M. 

1739. ' Therefore I ask my death and my doom.' 

1747. Mars the rede. Boccaccio uses the same epithet in the 
opening of his Teseide, i. 3 : * Marie rubicondoi Rede refers to the 
colour of the planet ; cf. Anelida, i. 

1761. This line occurs again three times ; March. Tale E. 1986; 
Squieres Tale, F. 479 ; Legend of Good Women, 503. 

1780. ca7i 710 divisoun, knows no distinction. 

1781. after 0071 = after one mode, according to the same rule. 
1783. eyen lighte, cheerful looks. 

1785. See the Romaunt of the Rose, 878-884; vol. 1. p. 130. 

1799. * Amare et Sapere vix Deo conceditur.' — Publius Syrus, Sent. 
15. Cf. Adv. of Learning, ii. proem. § 15—' It is not granted to man 
to love and to be wise ' ; ed. Wright, p. 84. So also in Bacon's loth 
Essay. The reading here given is correct. Fool is used with great 
emphasis ; the sense is : — ' Who can be a (complete) fool, unless he is 
in love ? ' The old printed editions have the same reading. The 
Harl. MS. alone has if that for but-if giving the sense : ' Who can 
be fool, if he is in love?' As this is absurd, Mr. Wright silently 
inserted not after ;;/«/, and is followed by Bell and Morris ; but the 
latter prints 7tot in italics. Observe that the line is deficient in the 
first foot. Read : — Who | may be | a fool, &c. 

1807. y<)///<?^, joyfulness — said of course ironically. 

1808. Can . . . tha7ik, acknowledges an obligation, owes thanks. 

1814. a serva7tt, i.e. a lover. This sense of servant, as a term 
of gallantry, is common in our dramatists. 

1815, 1818. Cf. the Teseide, v. 92. 

1837. looth or leef displeasing or pleasing. 

1838. pype/i Z7t an ivy leef \s an expression like 'blow the buck's- 
horn ' in A. 3387, meaning to console oneself with any frivolous em- 

LI. 1668-850.] THE KNIGHTES TALE. 75 

ployment ; it occurs again in Troilus, v. 1433. Cf. the expression * to go 
and whistle.' Cf. ' farwel the gardiner ; he may pipe with an yue-leafe ; 
his fruite is failed'; Test, of Love, bk. iii ; ed. 1561, fol. 316. Boys 
still blow against a leaf, and produce a squeak. Lydgate uses similar 
expressions : — 

' But let his brother blowe in an horn, 
Where that him list, or pipe in a reede.' 

Destruction of Thebes, part ii. 

Again, in Hazlitt's Proverbs, we find 'To go blow one's flute,' which 
is taken from an old proverb. In Vox Populi Vox Dei (circa 1547)> 
pr. in Hazlitt's Popular Poetry, iii. 284, are the lines :— 
'When thei have any sute, 
Thei maye goo blowe theire flute, 
This goithe ihe covion brute! 
The custom is old. Cf. Zenobius, i. 19 (Paroem. Graec. L p. 6) : — 

uhiiv npos fivppivT)v' fdos rjv tov (ir/ dvvdp.(vov iv toU avfiTToa-iois aaai, 
ta(fitn]s KXwva 17 fivppiyrji Xal^ovra npos tovtov ciSfiv. 

1850. /er ne 7ier, farther nor nearer, neither more nor less. 'After 
some little trouble, I have arrived at the conclusion that Chaucer has 
given us sufficient daia for ascertaining both the days of the month 
and of the week of many of the principal events of the " Knightes 
Tale." The following scheme will explain many things hitherto un- 

' On Friday, May 4, before I A. M., Palamon breaks out of prison. 
For (1. 1463) it was during the " third night of May, but (1. 1467) a little 
a/ier midnight." That it was Friday is evident also, from observing 
that Palamon hides himself at day's approach, whilst Arcite rises "for 
to doon his observance to May, remembringon \.hQ poyttt 0/ his desyr" 
To do this best, he would go into the fields at siairisc (1. 1491), during 
the hour dedicated to Venus, i. e. during the hour after sunrise on 
a Friday. If however this seem for a moment doubtful, all doubt 
is removed by the following lines : — 

" Right as the Friday, soothly for to telle, 
Now it shyneth, now it reyneth faste. 
Right so gan gery Venus overcaste 
The hertes of hir folk ; right as Mr day 
Is gerful, right so chaungeth she array. 
Selde is the Friday al the wyke ylyke." 

' All this is very little to the point unless we suppose Friday to be 
the day. Or, if the reader have still any doubt about this, let him 
observe the curious accumulation of evidence which is to follow. 

' Palamon and Arcite meet, and a duel is arranged for an early hour 
on the day folloiuing. That is, they meet on Saturday, May 5. But, 
as Saturday is presided over by the inauspicious planet Saturn, it is 
no wonder that they are both unfortunate enough to have their duel 


interrupted by Theseus, and to find themselves threatened with death. 
Still, at the intercession of the queen and Emily, a day of assembly 
for a tournament is fixed for '^ this day fifty tvykes^' (1. 1850). Now 
we must understand " fifty wykes " to be a poetical expression for 
a year. This is not mere supposition, however, but a certainty ; 
because the appointed day was in the month of May, whereas fifty 
weeks and no more would land us in April. Then ** this day fyfty 
wekes " means " this day year," viz. on May 5. [In fact, Boccaccio 
has 'un anno intero'; Tes. v. 98.] 

' Now, in the year following (supposed not a leap-year), the 5th 
of May would be Sunday. But this we are expressly told in 1. 2188. 
It must be noted, however, that this is not the day of the tournatnent^j 
but of the muster for it, as may be gleaned from 11. 1850-1854 and 
2096. The eleventh hour "inequal" of Sunday night, or the second 
hour before sunrise of Monday, is dedicated to Venus, as explained by 
Tyrwhitt (1. 2217); and therefore Palamon then goes to the temple 
of Venus. The next hour is dedicated to Mercury. The third hour, 
the first after sunrise on Monday, is dedicated to Luna or Diana, and 
during this Emily goes to Diana's temple. The fourth after sunrise is 
dedicated to Mars, and therefore Arcite then goes to the temple 
of Mars. But the rest of the day is spent merely in jousting and 
preparations — 

" AI that Monday justen they and daunce." (1. 2486.) 

The tournament therefore takes place on Tuesday, May 7, on the day 
of the week presided over by Mars, as was very fitting ; and this 
perhaps helps to explain Saturn's exclamation in 1. 2669, " Mars hath 
his wille." ' — Walter W. Skeat, in Notes and Queries, Fourth Series, 
ii. 2, 3 ; Sept. 12, 1868 (since slightly corrected). 

To this was added the observation, that May 5 was on a Saturday 
in 1386, and on a Sunday in 1387. Ten Brink (Studien, p. 189) 
thinks it is of no value ; but the coincidence is curious. 

1866. ' Except that one of you shall be either slain or taken prisoner'; 
i. e. one of you must be fairly conquered. 

1884. listes, lists. ' The lists for the tilts and tournaments resembled 
those, I doubt not, appointed for the ordeal combats, which, according 
to the rules established by Thomas, duke of Gloucester, uncle to 
Richard II., were as follows. The king shall find the field to fight in, 
and the lists shall be made and devised by the constable ; and it is to 
be observed, that the list must be 60 paces long and 40 paces broad, set 
up in good order, and the ground within hard, stable, and level, 
without any great stones or other impediments ; also, that the lists 
must be made with one door to the east, and another to the west [see 

* It has been objected, that this makes the tournament to take place, not 
on the anniversary of the duel, but two days later. But see 1. 2095, where 
the anniversary of the duel is plainly made the day for assembling the hosts, 
not for the fight. 

LL 1866-929.] THE KNIGHTES TALE. 77 

11. 1893,4] ; and strongly barred about with good bars 7 feet high or 
more, so that a horse may not be able to leap over them.' — Strutt, 
Sports and Pastimes; bk. iii. c. i. § 23. 

1889. The various parts of this round theatre are subsequently 
described. On the North was the turret of Diana, with an oratory; 
on the East the gate of Venus, with altar and oratory above ; on the 
West the gate of Mars, similarly provided. 

1890. Fill of degrees, full of steps (placed one above another, as in 
an amphitheatre). ' But now they have gone a nearer way to the 
wood, for with wooden galleries in the church that they have, and 
siairy degrees of seats in them, they make as much room to sit and 
hear, as a new west end would have done.' — Nash's Red Herring, 
p. 21. See Shakespeare, Julius C^sar, ii. 126, and also 2 Kings xx. 9. 
Cf. 'While she stey up from gre to gre.' — Lives of Saints, Roxb. Club, 
p. 59. Lines 1 187-1894 are more or less imitated from the Teseide, 
vii. 108-110. 

1910. Coral is a curious material to use for such a purpose ; but we 
find posts of coral and a palace chiefly formed of coral and metal in 
Guy of Warwick, ed. Zupitza, 11399-11401. 

1913. don ivroghtj caused (to be) made ; observe this idiom. Cf. don 
yow kept, E. 1098 ; han doon fraught, B. 171 ; haf gert saliit^ Bruce, 
xviii. 168. 

1918-32. See the analysis of this passage in vol. iii. p. 390. 

1919. on the wal, viz. on the walls luiihin the oratory. The descrip- 
tion is loosely imitated from Boccaccio's Teseide, vii. 55-59. It is 
remarkable that there is a much closer imitation of the same passage 
in Chaucer's Pari, of Foules, 11. 183-294. Thus at 1. 246 of that poem 
we find : — 

* Within the temple , of syghes bote as fyr, 
I herde a swogh, that gan aboute renne ; 
W^hich syghes were engendred with desyr, 
That maden every auter for to brenne 
Of newe flaume ; and wel aspyed I thenne 
That al the cause of sorwes that they drye 
Com of the bitter goddesse lalousye.' 

There is yet another description of the temple of Venus in the House 
of Fame, 1 19-139, where we have the very line 'Naked fletinge in 
a see' (cf. 1. 1956 below), and a mention of the 'rose garlond * 
(cf. 1. 1961), and of Hir dowves and daun Cupido ' (cf. 11. 1962-3). 

1929. golde, a marigold ; Calendula. ' Goolde, herbe : Solsequium, 
quia sequitur solem, elitropium, calendula'; Prompt. Parv. The corn- 
marigold in the North is called goulans, guilde, or goles, and in the 
Soviih, golds (Way). Gower says that Leucothea was changed 

' Into a floure was named golde. 
Which stant governed of the sonne.' 

Conf. Am., ed. Pauli, ii. 356. 


Yellow is the colour of jealousy ; see Yellowftess in Nares. In the 
Rom. de la Rose, 22037, Jealousy is described as wearing a ' chapel 
de soussie,^ i.e. a chaplet of marigolds. 

1936. 0///^n)?/« = Cithaeron, sacred to Venus ; as said in the Rom. 
dela Rose, 15865, q. v. 

1940. In the Romaunt of the Rose, Idleness is the j)ortero{ the garden 
in which the rose (Beauty) is kept. In the Pari, of Foulcs, 261, the 
porter's name is Richesse. Cf. 11. 2, 3 of the Second Nonnes Tale (G. 2, 3). 

1941. of yore agon, of years gone by. Cf. Ovid, Met. iii. 407. 
1953-4. Imitated from Le Roman de la Rose, 16891-2. 

1955. The description of Venus here given has some resemblance to 
that given in cap. v (De Venere) of Albrici Philosophi De Deorum 
Imaginibus Libellus, in an edition of the Mythographi Latini, 
Amsterdam, 1681, vol. ii. p. 304. I transcribe as much as is material. 
* Pingebatur Venus pulcherrima puella, nuda, et in mari natans ; et in 
manu sua dextra concham marinam tenens atque gestans ; rosisque 
candidis et rubris sertum gerebat in capite ornatum, et columbis circa 
se volando, comitabatur. . . . Hinc et Cupido filius suus alatus et caecus 
assistebat, qui sagitta et arcu, quos tenebat, Apollinem sagittabat.' It 
is clear that Chaucer had consulted some such description as this ; 
see further in the note to 1. 2041. 

1958. Cf. 'wawes . . clere as glas' ; Boeth. bk. i. met. 7. 4. 
1971. estres, the inner parts of a building; as also in A. 4295 and 
Leg. of Good Women, 1 7 1 5. * To spere the estyrs of Rome ' ; Le Bone 
Florence, 293 ; in Ritson, Met. Rom. iii. 13. See also Cursor Mundi, 2252. 
'For thow knowest better then I 
Al the estris of this house.' 
Pardoner and Tapster, 556; pr. with Tale of Beryn (below). 
'His sportis [portes ?] and his estrt's' ; Tale of Beryn, ed. Furnivall, 
837. Cf. ' Qu'il set bien de I'ostel les es/res'; Rom. do la Rose, 12720 ; 
and see Rom. of the Rose, 1448 (vol. i. p. 153). 

By mistaking the long i' (f) for/, this word has been misprinted as 
eftures in the following : ' Pleaseth it yow to see the eftiires of this 
castel ? ' — Sir Thomas Malory, Mort Arthure, b. xix. c. 7. 

1979. a rutnbel and a swoug/i, a rumbling and a sound of wind. 
1982. Mars armifotente. 

' O thou rede Marz armypotente. 
That in the trende baye hase made thy throne ; 
That God arte of bataile and regent, 
And rulist all that alone ; 
To whom I profre precious present, 
To the makande my moone 
With herte, body and alle myn entente, 

• ••••• 

In worshipe of thy reverence 
On thyn owen Tewesdaye.' 

Sowdone of Babyloyne, 11. 939-953. 

LI. 1936-99.] THE KNIGHTES TALE. 79 

The word armipotetit is borrowed from Boccaccio's armipotente, in the 
Teseide, vii. -32. Other similar borrowings occur hereabouts, too 
numerous for mention. Note that this description of the temple of 
Mars once belonged to the end of the poem of Anelida, which see. 

Let the reader take particular notice that the temple here described 
(11. 1982-1994) is merely a /a/«/^^ temple, depicted on one of the walls 
inside the oratory of Mars. The walls of the other temples had 
paintings similar to those inside the temple of which the outside is 
here depicted. Chaucer describes the painted temple as if it were 
real, which is somewhat confusing. Inconsistent additions were 
made in revision. 

1984. sireit, narrow ; * la stretta entrata ' ; Tes. vii. 32. 

1985. vese is glossed impetus in the Ellesmere MS., and means 
* rush ' or ' hurrying blast.' It is allied to M.E.yij^w, to drive, which is 
Shakespeare's //f^i's't'. Copied from 'salit Impetus amens E foribus'; 
Theb. vii. 47, 48. 

1986. rese—\.Q shake, quake. ' pe eorSe gon to-rusien^ 'the earth 
gan to shake.' — La5amon, 1. 15946. To resye, to shake, occurs in 
Ayenbite of Inwyt, pp. 23, 1 16. Cf. also — * The tre aresede as hit wold 
falle ' ; Seven Sages, ed. Weber, 1. 915. A. S. hrysian. 

1987. ' I suppose the northern light is the aurora borealis, but this 
phenomenon is so rarely mentioned by mediaeval writers, that it may be 
questioned whether Chaucer meant anything more than the faint and 
cold illumination received by reflexion through the door of an apartment 
fronting the north.' (Marsh.) The fact is, however, that Chaucer here 
copies Statius, Theb. vii. 40-58 ; see the translation in the note to 1. 2017 
below. The ' northern light ' seems to be an incorrect rendering of 
'aduersum Phoebi iubar'; 1. 45. 

1990. ' E le porte eran d'eterno diamante ' ; Teseide, vii. 32. Such is 
the reading given by Warton. However, the ultimate source is the 
phrase in Statius — 'adamante perenni . . . fores ' ; Theb. vii. 68. 

1991. overthwarty &c., across and along (i.e. from top to bottom). 
The same phrase occurs in Rich. Coer de Lion, 2649, '" Weber, Met. 
Romances, ii. 104. 

1997, 8. Cf. the Teseide, vii. ^^ : — 

'Videvi 1' Ire rosse, come fuoco, 
E le Paure pallide in quel loco.' 

But Chaucer follows Statius still more closely. LI. 1 195-2012 answer 

to Theb. vii. 48-53 :— 

— ' caecumque Nefas, Iraeque rubentes, 
Exsanguesque Metus, occultisque ensibus astant 
Insidiae, geminumque tenens Discordia ferrum. 
Innumeris strepit aula minis ; tristissima Virtus 
Stat medio, laetusque Furor, uultuque cruento 
Mars armata sedet.' 

; 1999. Cf. Rom. of the Rose, 7419-20. 


2001. See Chaucer's Legend of Hypermnestra. 

2003. ' Discordia, contake ' ; Glossary in Reliquiae Antiquae, i. 7. 

2004. c/iirttfjg is used of grating and creaking sounds ; and some- 
times, of the cry of birds. The Lansd. MS. has schrikeinge (shrieking). 
See House of Fame, iii. 853 (or 1943). In Batman upon Bartholom^, 
lib. viii. c. 29, the music of the spheres is attributed to the ^ cherky?tg 
of the mouing of the circles, and of the roundnes of heauen.' In 
Chaucer's tr. of Boethius, bk. i. met. 6, it is an adj., and translates 
stridens. Cf. D. 1804, I. 605. 

2007. This line contains an allusion to the death of Sisera, Judges iv. 
But Dr. Koch has pointed out (Essays on Chaucer, Chaucer Soc. iv. 
371) that we have here some proof that Chaucer may have altered his 
first draft of the poem without taking sufficient heed to what he was 
about. The original line may have stood — 

* The sleer of her husband saw I there ' — 

or something of that kind ; for the reason that no suicide has ever yet 
been known to drive a nail into his own head. That a wife might do 
so to her husband is Chaucer's own statement ; for, in the Cant. Tales, 
D. 765-770, we find — 

* Of latter date, of wives hath he red. 
That somme han slayn hir housbondes in hir bed . . . 
And somme han drive nayles in hir brayn, 
Whyl that they slepte, and thus they han hem slayn.' 

Of course it may be said that 1. 2006 is entirely independent oi 1. 2007, 
and I have punctuated the text so as to suit this arrangement ; but the 
suggestion is worth notice. 

20n. From Tes. vii. 35 : — ' Videvi ancora I'allegro Furore.' — Kolbing. 

2017. hoppesteres. Speght explains this word by pilots {gubernaculum 
tenentes) ; Tyrwhitt, female dancers (Ital. ballairice). Others explain 
it hopposieres=opposteres=o^Y'Osing, hostile, so that schippes hoppe- 
steres=bellairices carinae (Statins). As, however, it is impossible to 
suppose that even opposteres without the h can ever have been formed 
from the verb to oppose, the most likely solution is that Chaucer 
mistook the word bellairices in Statins (vii. 57) or the corresponding 
Ital. word bellatrici in the Teseide, vii. yj, for ballairices or ballatrici, 
which might be supposed to mean 'female dancers'; an expression 
which would exactly correspond to an M.E. form hoppesteres, from the 
A. S. hoppestre, a female dancer. Herodias' daughter is mentioned 
(in the dative case) 2l% pcere lydran hoppystran (better spelt hoppestran) 
in yElfric's A. S. Homilies, ed. Thorpe, i. 484. Hence shippes hoppe- 
steres simply means ' dancing ships.' Shakespeare likens the English 
fleet to 'A city on the inconstant billows dancitig' ; Hen. V. iii. prol. 
15. Cf. O. F. baleresse, a female dancer, in Godefroy's Diet., s. v. 
baleor. In § 55 of CI. Ptolomaei Centum Dicta, printed at Ulm in 1641, 
we are told that Mars is hostile to ships when in the zenith or the 

LI. 2001-21.] THE KNIGHTES TALE. 8i 

eleventh house. ^ Incendeiur autem nauis, si ascendens ab aliqua 
Stella fixa quae ex Martis mixtura sit, affligetur.' So that, if a fixed star 
co-operated with Mars, the ships were burnt. 

The following extract from Lewis' translation of Statius' Thebaid, 
bk. vii., is of some interest : — 

' Beneath the fronting height of /Emus stood 
The fane of Mars, encompass'd by a wood. 
The mansion, reared by more than mortal hands, 
On columns fram'd of polish'd iron stands ; 
The well-compacted walls are plated o'er 
With the same metal ; just without the door 
A thousand Furies frown. The dreadful gleam, 
That issues from the sides, reflects the beam 
Of adverse Phoebus, and with cheerless light 
Saddens the day, and starry host of night. 
Well his attendants suit the dreary place ; 
First frantic Passion, Wrath with redd'ning face, 
And Mischief blind from forth the threshold start ; 
Within lurks pallid Fear with quiv'ring heart, 
Discord, a two-edged falchion in her hand, 
And Treach'ry, striving to conceal the brand.' 

2020. for al, notwithstanding. Cf. Piers the Plowman, B. xix. 274. 

202L inforiune of Marie. * Tyrwhitt thinks that Chaucer might 
intend to be satirical in these lines ; but the introduction of such 
apparently undignified incidents arose from the confusion already 
mentioned of the god of war with the planet to which his name was 
given, and the influence of which was supposed to produce all the 
disasters here mentioned. The following extract from the Compost of 
Ptolemeus gives some of the supposed effects of Mars : — "Under Mars 
is borne theves and robbers that kepe hye wayes, and do hurte to true 
men, and nyght-walkers, and quarell-pykers, bosters, mockers, and 
skoffers, and these men of Mars causeth warre and murther, and 
batayle ; they wyll be gladly smythes or workers of yron, lyght-fyngred, 
and lyers, gret swerers of othes in vengeable wyse, and a great 
sunnyler and crafty. He is red and angry, with blacke heer, and lytell 
iyen ; he shall be a great walker, and a maker of swordes and knyves, 
and a sheder of mannes blode, and a fornycatour, and a speker of 
rybawdry . . . and good to be a barboure and a blode-letter, and to 
drawe tethe, and is peryllous of his handes." The following extract is 
from an old astrological book of the sixteenth century : — " Mars 
denoteth men with red faces and the skinne redde, the face round, the 
eyes yellow, horrible to behold, furious men, cruell, desperate, proude, 
sedicious, souldiers, captaines, smythes, colliers, bakers, alcumistes, 
armourers, furnishers, butchers, chirurgions, barbers, sargiants, and 
hangmen, according as they shal be well or evill disposed." ' — Wright. 
So also in Cornelius Agrippa, De Occulta Philosophia, lib. i. c. 22. 

* * * 

if. :>: 


Chaucer has * cruel Mars ' in The Man of Lawes Tale, B. 301 ; and 
of. note to A. 1087. 

2022. From Statius, Theb. vii. 58 :— 

*Et uacui currus, protritaque curribus ora.' 

2029. For the story of Damocles, see Cicero, Tuscul. 5. 61 ; 
cf. Horace, Od. iii. i. 17. And see Chaucer's tr, of Boethius, bk. iii. 
pr. 5.17. Most likely Chaucer got it from Boethius or from the Gesta 
Romanorum, cap. 143, since the name of Damocles is omitted. 

2037. sterres (Harl.) Elles. &c. have certres (sertres) ; but this 
strange reading can hardly be other than a mistake for sterres, which 
is proved to be the right word by the parallel passage in The Man of 
Lawes Tale, B. 194-6. 

204L In the note to 1. 1955, I have quoted part of cap. v. of a work 
by Albricus. In cap. iii. (De Marte) of the same, we have a description 
of Mars, which should be compared. I quote all that is material. 
' Erat enim eius figura tanquam unius hominis furibundi, in curru 
sedens, armatus lorica, et caeteris armis offensiuis et defensiuis. . . 
Ante ilium uero lupus ouem portans pingebatur, quia illud scilicet 
animal ab antiquis gentibus ipsi Marti specialiter consecratum est. 
Istc enim Manors est, id est mares tiorans, eo quod bellorum deus 
a gentibus dictus est.' Chaucer seems to have taken the notion of the 
wolf devouring a man from this singular etymology of Manors. 

In cap. vii. (De Diana) of the same, there is a description of ' Diana, 
quae et Luna, Proserpina, Hecate nuncupatur.' Cf. 1. 2313 below. 

2045. 'The names of two figures in geomancy, representing two 
constellations in heaven. Puella signifieth Mars retrogade, and 
Rubeus Mars direct.' — Note in Speght's Chaucer. It is obvious that 
this explanation is wrong as regards * Mars retrograde ' and ' Mars 
direct,' because a constellation cannot represent a single planet. It 
happens to be also wrong as regards ' constellations in heaven.' But 
Speght is correct in the main point, viz., that Puella and Rubeus are 
* the names of two figures in geomancy.' Geomancy was described, 
under the title of ' Divination by Spotting,' in The Saturday Review, 
Feb. 16, 1889. To form geomantic figures, proceed thus. Take 
a pencil, and hurriedly jot down on a paper a number of dots in a line, 
without counting them. Do the same three times more. Now count 
the dots, to see whether they are odd or even. If the dots in a line 
are odd, put down one dot on another small paper, half-way across it. 
If they are rtv«, put down tivo dots, one towards each side ; arranging 
the results in four rows, one beneath the other. 

Three of the figures thus formed require our attention ; the whole 
number being sixteen. Fig. I results from the dots being odd, even, 
odd, odd. Fig. 2, from even, odd, even, even. Fig. 3, from odd, odd, 
even, odd. These (as well as the rest of the sixteen figures) are given 
in Cornelius Agrippa, De Occulta Philosophia, lib. ii. cap. 48 : De 
Figuris Geomanticis. Each 'Figure' had a 'Name,' belonged to an 

LL 2023-79.] THE KNIGHTES TALE. 83 

' Element,' and possessed a * Planet ' and a Zodiacal ' Sign.' Cornelius 
Agrippa gives our three ' figures ' as below. 

* * * * 

* * * * 

Fig. I (Puella). Fig. 2 (Rubeus). Fig. 3 (Puer). That is, Fig. i is 
' Puella,' or * Mundus facie ' ; element, water ; planet, Venus ; sign, 

Fig. 2 is ' Rubeus ' or ' Rufus ' ; element, fire; planet. Mars; sign, 

Fig. 3 is ' Puer,' or 'Flavus,' or ' Imberbis' ; element, fire ; planet, 
Mars ; sign, Aries. 

Chaucer (or some one else) seems to have confused figures i and 3, or 
Puer with Puella ; for Puella was dedicated to Venus. Rubeus is clearly 
right, as Mars was the red planet (1. 1747)- I first explained this, 
somewhat more fully, in The Academy, March 2, 1889. 

2049. From Tes. vii. 38 :— * E tal ricetto edificato avea Mulcibero so//z7 
colla sua arte.' — Kolbing, in Engl. Studien, ii. 528. 

2056. Calisiopce = CaUisio, a daughter of Lycaon, King of Arcadia, 
and companion of Diana. See Ovid's Fasti, ii. 153; Gower, Conf. 
Amantis, ed. Pauli, ii. 336. 

2059, 206L 'Cf. Ovid's Fasti, ii. 153-192 ; especially 189, 190, 

" Signa propinqua micant. Prior est, quam dicimus Arcton, 
Arctophylax formam terga sequentis habet." 

The nymph Callisto was changed into Ardos or the Great Bear; 
hence " Vrsa Maior " is written in the margin of E. Hn. Cp. Ln. This 
was sometimes confused with the other Arctos or Lesser Bear, in which 
was situate the lodestar or Polestar. Chaucer has followed this error. 
Callisto's son. Areas, was changed into Arctophylax or Bootes : here 
again Chaucer says a j/^rrt', when he means a whole constellation; 
as, perhaps, he does in other passages.'— Chaucer's Astrolabe, ed. 
Skeat (E. E. T. S.), pp. xlviii, xlix. ,^^ 

2062, 2064. Dcme^DapIme, a girl beloved by Apollo, and changed 
into a laurel. See Ovid's Metamorph. i. 450 ; Gower, Conf. Amantis, 
ed. Pauli, i. 336 ; Troilus, iii. 726. 

2065. Attheon=Aciaeo7t. See Ovid's Metamorph. iii. 138. 

2070. Atthala>tie=Atalafita. See Ovid's Metamorph. x. 560 ; and 
Troilus, V. 1471. 

2074. nat draweii to me))iorie-=xio\. draw to memory, not call to 

2079. Cf. ' gawdy greene. subvirtdis' ; Prompt. Parv. This^(/«^/^ 
has nothing whatever to do with the E. sb. gaud, but answers to F. 
gaudJ, the pp. of the xerh gauder, to dye with weld ; from the F. sb. 
gaude, weld. As to lUc'/d, see my note to The P'ormer Age, 17 ; in 

G 2 


vol. i. p. 540. Littre has an excellent example of the word : ' Les bleus 
teints en indigo doivent etre gaiides, et ils deviennent verts' 

2086. iJiou jnayst best, art best able to help, thou hast most power. 
Lucina was a title both of Juno and Diana ; see Vergil, Eel. iv. 10. 

2112. Utrt parafnours is used adverbially, like paramour in 1. 1155. 
From Le Roman de la Rose, 20984 : — ' Jam^s par amors n' ameroit.' 

2115. henedicite is here pronounced as a trisyllable, viz. ben' cite. It 
usually is so, though five syllables in 1. 1785. Cf. benste in Towneley 
INIyst. p. 85. Cf. 'What, liveth nat thy lady, benedicite/' Troil. i. 780. 
Benedicite is equivalent to ' thank God,' and was used in saying graces. 
See Babees Book, pp. 382, 386 ; and Appendix, p. 9. 

2125. This line seems to mean that there is nothing new under 
the sun. 

2129. This is the *re Licurgo' of the Teseide, vi. 14 ; and the Ly- 
curgus of the Thebaid, iv. 386, and of Homer, II. vi. 130. But the 
description of him is partly taken from that of another warrior, Tes. vi. 
21, 22. It is worth notice that, in Lydgate's Story of Thebes, pt. iii., 
king Ligurgus or Licurgus (the name is spelt both ways) is introduced, 
and Lydgate has the following remark concerning him : — 

'And the kingdom, but-if bokes lye, 
Of Ligurgus, called was Trace ; 
And, as I rede in another place, 
He was the same mighty champion 
To Athenes that cam with Palamon 
Ayenst his brother (!) that called was Arcite, 
Y-led in his chare with foure boles whyte, 
Upon his hed a Avreth of gold ful fyn.' 

The term brother must refer to 1. 1 147 above. See further, as to 
Lycurgus, in the note to Leg. Good Women, 2423, in vol. iii. p. 344, 

2134. '■ kempe heres, shaggy, rough hairs. Tyrwhitt and subsequent 
editors have taken for granted that kempe = kemped, combed (an im- 
possible equation) ; but kempe is rather the reverse of this, and instead 
of smoothly combed, means bristly, rough, or shagg)'. In an Early 
English poem it is said of Nebuchadnezzar that 

" Hol§7ie (hollow) were his ygh&a anunder (under) campe hores.^' 
Early Eng. Alliterative Poems, p. 85, 1. 1695. 

Campe hores = shaggy hairs (about the eyebrows), and corresponds 
exactly in form and meaning to kejnpe heres.' — M. See Glossary. 

2141. I.e. the nails of the bear were yellow. In Cutts, Scenes and 
Characters of the Middle Ages, p. 345, the bad guess is hazarded that 
these * nails ' were metal studs. But Chaucer was doubtless thinking of 
the tiger's skin described in the Thebaid, vi. 722 : — 

'Tunc genitus Talao uictori tigrin inanem 
Ire iubet, fuluo quae circumfusa nitebat 
Margine, et extremos auro mansueuerat nngttes: 

LI. 2086-187.] THE KNIGHTES TALE. 85 

Lewis translates the last line by : — ' The sharpness of the claws was 
dulled with gold.' 

2142. for-old, very old. See next note. 

2144. for-blak is generally explained 2is/or blachicss ; it means very 
black. Ci./ordrye, very dry, in F. 409. 

2148. rt/(n^«/j, mastiffs or wolf-hounds. Florio has : ^ Alano,z.rm.s- 
tiue dog.' Cotgrave : * Allati, a kind of big, strong, thickheaded, and 
short-snowted dog ; the brood where-of came first out of Albania (old 
Epirus).' Pineda's Span. Diet, gives : ' Ahvio, a mastiff dog, particu- 
larly a bull dog ; also, an Alan, one of that nation.' This refers to the 
tribe of Alant, a nation of warlike horsemen, first found in Albania. 
They afterwards became allies, first of the Huns, and afterwards of the 
Visi-Goths. It is thus highly probable that Alaiint (in which the / is 
obviously a later addition) signifies 'an Alanian dog,' which agrees 
with Cotgrave's explanation. Smith's Classical Diet, derives Alanus, 
said to mean ' mountaineer,' from a Sarmatian word ala. 

The alaimt is described in the Maister of the Game, c. 16. We 
there learn they were of all colours, and frequently white with a black 
spot about the ears. 

2152. Colers of, having collars of. Some MSS. read Colerd o/j 
which I now believe to be right. Collared was an heraldic term, used 
of greyhounds, &c. ; see the New Eng. Diet. This leaves an awkward 
construction, as lorefs seems to be governed by with. See Launfal, 965, 
in Ritson, Met. Rom. i. 212. Cf. 'as they (the Jews) were tied up 
with girdles .... so were they collared about the neck.' — Fuller's 
Pisgah Sight of Palestine, p. 524, ed. 1869. 

iorels, probably eyes in which rings will turn round, because each 
eye is a little larger than the thickness of the ring. This appears 
from Chaucer's Astrolabe, i. 2. I — ' This ring renneth in a maner 
turet,' i. e. in a kind of eye (vol. iii. p. 178). Warton, in his Hist. E. 
Poet. ed. 1871, ii. 314, gives several instances. It also meant a small 
loose ring. Cotgrave gives : ' Touret, the annulet, or little ring whereby 
a hawk's lune is fastened unto the jesses.' ' My lityll bagge of 
blakke ledyr with a cheyne and loret of siluyr'; Bury Wills, ed. 
Tymms, p. 16. Cf E. sv.'ivel-x\r\g. 

2156. Emetrius is not mentioned either by Statins or by Boccaccio ; 
cf. Tes. vi. 29, 17, 16, 41. 

2158. diapred, variegated with flowery or arabesque patterns. See 
diaspre and diasprem Godefroy's O.F. Diet. ; diasprus ^.vid. diasperatus 
in Ducange. In Le Rom. de la Rose, 21205, we find mention of samis 
diapres, diapered samites. 

2160. cloth of Tars, ' a kind of silk, said to be the same as in other 
places is called Tartarine {tartarinum), the exact derivation of which 
appears to be somewhat uncertain.' — Wright. Cf. Piers the Plowman, 
B. XV. 224, and my note to the same, C. xvii. 299 ; also Tariaritim in 

2187. alle and some, 'all and singular,' 'one and all.' 


2205. See the Teseide, vi. 8 ; also Our Eng. Home, 22. 

2217. And itt hir hoiire. * I cannot better illustrate Chaucer's 
astrology than by a quotation from the old Kalendrier de Bergiers, 
edit. 1 500, Sign. K. ii. b : — " Qui veult savoir comme bergiers scevent 
quel planete regne chascune heure du jour et de la nuit, doit savoir la 
planete du jour qui veult s'enquerir ; et la premiere heure temporelle 
du soleil levant ce jour est pour celluy planete, la seconde heure est 
pour la planete ensuivant, et la tierce pour I'autre," &c., in the following 
order : viz. Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Venus, Mercury, Luna. To 
apply this doctrine to the present case, the first hour of the Sunday, 
reckoning from sunrise, belonged to the Sun, the planet of the day; 
the second to Venus, the third to Mercury, &c. ; and continuing this 
method of allotment, we shall find that the twenty-second hour also 
belonged to the Sun, and the twenty-third to Venus ; so that the hour 
of Venus really was, as Chaucer says, two hours before the sunrise of 
the following day. Accordingly, we are told in 1. 2271, that the third 
hour after Palamon set out for the temple of Venus, the Sun rose, and 
Emily began to go to the temple of Diane. It is not said that this 
was the hour of Diane, or the Moon, but it really was ; for, as we have 
just seen, the twenty-third hour of Sunday belonging to Venus, the 
twenty-fourth must be given to Mercury, and the first hour of Monday 
falls in course to the ISIoon, the presiding planet of that day. After 
this, Arcite is described as walking to the temple of Mars, 1. 2367, in 
the nexte houre of Mars y that is, XhQ fourth hour of the day. It is 
necessary to take these words together, for the nexte houre, singly, 
would signify the second hour of the day ; but that, according to the 
rule of rotation mentioned above, belonged to Saturn, as the third did 
to Jupiter. I'he fourth was the nexte houre of Mars that occurred 
after the hour last named.' — Tyrwhitt. Thus Emily is two hours later 
than Palamon, and Arcite is three hours later than Emily. 

2221-64. To be compared with the Teseide, vii. 43-49, and vii. 68. 

2224. Adoun, Adonis. See Ovid, Met. x. 503. 

2233-6. Imitated from Le Rom. de la Rose, 21355-65, q. v. 

2238. ' I care not to boast of arms (success in arms).* 

2239. N'e I ne axe, Sec, are to be pronounced as ni naxe, &c. So in 
1. 2630 of this tale, Ne in must be pronounced as ;//«. 

2252. wher I ryde or go, whether I ride or walk, 

2253. fyres bete, kindle or light fires. Bete also signifies to mend or 
make up the fire ; see 1. 2292. 

2271. The thridde hour inequal. ' In the astrological system, the 
day, from sunrise to sunset, and the night, from sunset to sunrise, being 
each divided into twelve hours, it is plain that the hours of the day and 
night were never equal except just at the equinoxes. The hours 
attributed to the planets were of this imequal sort. See Kalendrier de 
Berg. loc. cit., and our author's treatise on the Astrolabe.' — Tyrwhitt. 

2275-360. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 71-92. 

2286. a game, a pleasure. 

LI. 3305-451.] THE KNIGHTES TALE. 87 

2288. at his large, at liberty (to speak or to be silent). 

2290. ' E corono di quercia cereale ' ; Tes. vii. 74. Cerial should be 
cerrial, as spelt by Dryden, who speaks of ' chaplets green of cerrial 
oak'; Flower and Leaf, 230. It is from cerreus^ adj. oi cerrus, also 
ill-spelt ceiris, as in the botanical name Querciis cerris, the Turkey oak. 
The cup of the acorn is prickly ; see Pliny, bk. xvi. c. 6. 

2294. In Stace of Thebes, in the Thebaidof Statius, where the reader 
will not find it. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 72. 

2303. aboiighte, atoned for. Attheon, Actaeon ; Ovid, Met. iii. 230. 

2313. thre formes. Diana is called Dh>a Trifor>nis ; — in heaven, 
Luna ; on earth, Diana and Lucina, and in hell, Prosperpina. See 
note to 1. 2041. 

2336. Cf. Statius, Theb. viii. 632 : — ' Omina cernebam, subitusque 
intercidit ignis.* 

2365. the nexte waye, the nearest way. Cf the Teseide, vii. 93. 

2368. walked is, has walked. See note to 1. 2217. 

2371-434. Cf the Teseide, vii. 23-28, 39-41. 

2388. For the story, see Ovid, Met. iv. 171 — 189 ; and, in particular, 
cf. Rom. de la Rose, 14064, where Venus is said to be 'prise et lacie.' 

2395. lyves creature, creature alive, living creature. 

2397. See Compl. of Anelida, 182 ; cf Compl. to his Lady, 52. 

2405. do, bring it about, cause it to come to pass. 

2422-34. From Tes. vii. 39, 40 ; there are several verbal resemblances 
here. — Kolbing. 

2437. 'As joyful as the bird is of the bright sun.' So in Piers PI., 
B. X. 153. It was a common proverb. 

2438-41. Cf the Teseide, vii. 67. 

2443. Cf 'the olde colde Satumus'; tr. of Boethius, bk. iv, met. i. 

2447-8. From Le Rom. de la Rose, 13022, q. v. 

2449. ' Men may outrun old age, but not outwit (surpass its counsel).' 
Cf * Men may the wyse at-renne, but not at-rede.' — Troilus, iv. 1456. 

* For of him (the old man) ))u migt leren 
Listes and fele })ewes, 

pe baldure Jju migt ben : 

Ne for-lere )>u his redes, 

For J>e elder mon me mai of-riden 

Betere ))enne of-reden.' 

* For of him thou mayest learn 
Arts and many good habits, 
The bolder thou mayest be. 
Despise not thou his counsels, 
For one may out-ride the old man 
Better than out-wit.' 

The Proverbs of Alfred, ed. Morris, in an Old Eng. Miscellany, 
p. 136. And see Solomon and Saturn, ed. Kemble, p. 253. 
2451. agayn his kynde. According to the Compost of Ptolemeus, 


Saturn was influential in producing strife : ' And the children of the 
sayd Saturne shall be great jangeleres and chyders . . . and they will 
never forgyve tyll they be revenged of theyr quarelL' — Wright. 

2454. My cours. The course of the planet Saturn. This refers to 
the orbit of Saturn, supposed to be the largest of all, until Uranus 
and Neptune were discovered. 

2455. mo7-e pcnver. The Compost of Ptolemeus says of Saturn, ' He 
is mighty of hymself. . . . It is more than xxx yere or he may ronne 
his course. . . , Whan he doth reygne, there is moche debate.'— 

2460. groyning^ murmuring, discontent ; from F. grogner. See 
Rom. Rose, 7049 ; Troil. i. 349. 

2462. ' Terribilia mala operatur Leo cum malis ; auget enim eorum 
malitiam.' — Hermetis Aphorismorum Liber, § 66. 
2469. ' Er fyue jer ben folfult, such famyn schal aryse, 
])orw flodes and foul weder, fruites schul fayle. 
And so sei}) Saturne, and sent vs to warne.' 

P. Plowman, A. vii. 309 (B. vi. 325 ; C. ix. 347). 

2491-525. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 95-99. 

2504. Gigginge, fitting or providing (the shield) with straps. 
Godefroy gives O. F. gm'ge, guigtie, a strap for hanging a buckler over 
the shoulder, a handle of a shield. Cotgrave gives the fern. pi. gutges, 
' the handles of a target or shield.' In Mrs. Palliser's Historic Devices, 
p. 277, she describes a monument in St. Edmund's chapel, in West- 
minster Abbey, on which are three shields, each with * ihegm'ge or belt 
of Bourchier knots formed of straps.' In the M. E. word g/ggznge, both 
them's are hard, as \ngig (in the sense of a two-wheeled vehicle). 

Layneres lacinge, lacing of thongs ; see Prompt. Parv., s. v. Lanere. 

In Sir Bevis, ed. Kolbing, p. 134, we find — 

' Sir Beues was ful glad, iwis, 
Hese layiierys [printed layuerys\ he took anon, 
And fastenyd hys hawberk hym upon.' 

2507. Shakespeare seems to have observed this passage ; cf. Hen. V. 
Act 4. prol. 12. 
2511. Cf. House of Fame, 1239, 1240 : — 

' Of hem that maken blody soun 
In trumpe, beme, and clarioun.' 

Also Tes. viii. 5 : — ' D'armi, di corni, nacchere e trombette.' 

* The Nakkdrah or Naqarah was a great kettle-drum, formed like a 
brazen cauldron, tapering to the bottom, and covered with buffalo-hide, 
often 3^ or 4 feet in diameter. . . . The crusades naturalised the word 
in some form or other in most European languages, but in our own 
apparently with a transfer of meaning. Wright defines nakera.s " a comet 
or horn of brass," and Chaucer's use seems to countenance this.' — Marco 

LI. 2454-603.] THE KNIGHTES TALE. 89 

Polo, ed. Yule, i. 303-4 ; where more is added. But Wright's explana- 
tion is a mere guess, and should be rejected. There is no reason for 
assigning to the word naker any other sense than ' kettle-drum.* Minot 
(Songs, iv. 80) is explicit : — 

* The princes, that war riche on raw, 
Gert nakers strike, and trumpes blaw.' 

Hence a nakcr had to be struck, not blown. See also Naker in HalH- 
well's Dictionary. Boccaccio has the pi. 7iacchcre ; see above. 

2520. Spatih, battle-axe; Icel. spuria. See Rom. Rose, 5978; 
Wars of Alexander, ed. Skeat, 1403, 2458 ; Gawain and Grene Knight, 
209 ; Prompt. Parv. In Trevisa's tr. of Higden, bk. i. ch. 33, we 
are told that the Norwegians first brought sparths into Ireland. Higden 
has ' usum securium, qui Anglicc sparth dicitur.' 

2537. As to the regulations for tournaments, see Strutt's Sports and 
Pastimes, bk. iii. c. I. §§ 16-24 ; the passages are far too long for 
quotation. We may, however, compare the following extract, given by 
Strutt, from MS. Harl. 326. 'All these things donne, thei were em- 
batailed eche ageynste the othir, and the corde drawen before eche 
partie ; and whan the tyme was, the cordes were cutt, and the trum- 
pettes blew up for every man to do his devoir \diiiy\ And for to asser- 
tayne the more of the tourney, there was on eche side a stake ; and at 
eche stake two kyngs of amies, with penne, and inke, and paper, to 
write the names of all them that were yolden, for they shold no more 
tournay.' And, from MS. Harl. 69, he quotes that — ' no one shall bear 
a sword, pointed knife, mace, or other weapon, except the sword for the 

2543-93. Cf, the Teseide, vii. 12, 131-2, 12, 14, 100-2, 1 13-4, 
118, 19. In 2544, shot means arrow or crossbow-bolt. 

2546. 'Nor short sword having a biting (sharp) point to stab with.' 

2565. Cf. Legend of Good Women, 635 : — ' Up goth the trompe.' 

2568. Cf. King Alisaunder, 189, where we are told that a town was 
similarly decked to receive queen Olimpias with honour. See Weber's 

2600-24. Cf. the Teseide, viii. 5, 7, 14, 12, &c. 

2602. ' In go the spears full firmly into the rest^ — i. e. the spears 
were couched ready for the attack. 

* Thai layden here speres in areeste, 
Togeder thai ronnen as fire of thondere, 
That both here launces to-braste ; 
That they seten, it was grete wonder, 
So harde it was that they gan threste ; 
Tho drowen thai oute here swordes kene. 
And smyten togeder by one assente.' 

The Sowdone of Babyloyne, 1. 11 66, 
* With spere in thyne art'j/ ' ; Rom. of the Rose, 7561. 


2614. he . . . /i^=one . . . another. See Historical Outlines of English 
Accidence, p. 282. Cf. the parallel passage in the Legend of Good 
Women, 642-8. 

1^\h. feet. Some MSS. read_/&^>/. Tyrwhitt proposed to read /<?<?, 
foe, enemy ; but see 1. 2550. 

2624. ivroght . . . 200, done harm to his opponent. 

2626. Galgopheye. ' This word is variously written Colaphey, Gal- 
gaphey, Galapey. There was a town called Galapha in Mauritania 
Tingitana, upon the river Malva (Cellar. Geog. Ant. v. ii. p. 935), which 
perhaps may have given name to the vale here meant.' — Tyrwhitt. 
But doubtless Chaucer was thinking of the Vale of Gargaphie, where 
Actaeon was turned into a stag : — 

'Vallis erat, piceis et acuta densa cupressu. 
Nomine Gargaphie^ succinctae sacra Dianae.' 

Ovid, Met. iii. 155, 156. 

2627. Cf. the Teseide, viii. 26. 

2634. Byte, cleave, cut ; cf. the cognate Lat. verb Jindere. See 
11. 2546, 2640. 
2646. siverdes lengthe. Cf. 

' And then he bar me sone bi strenkith 
Out of my sadel my speres lenkith.' 

Ywaine and Gawin, 11. 421, 2. 

2675. Which a, what a, how great a. 
2676-80. Cf. the Teseide, viii. 131, 124-6. 

2683. al his chere may mean ' all his delight, as regarded his heart.' 
The Harl. MS. does not insert in before his chere, as Wright would 
have us believe. 

2684. Elles. reads furie, as noted ; so in the Teseide, ix. 4. 
This incident is borrowed from Statins, Theb. vi. 495, where Phoebus 
sends a hellish monster to frighten some horses in a chariot-race. 
And see Vergil, ^n. xii. 845. 

2686-706. Cf. the Teseide, ix. 7, 8, 47, 13, 48, 38, 26. 

2689. The following is a very remarkable account of a contemporary 
occurrence, which took place at the time when a parliament was held 
at Cambridge, A. D. 1388, as told by Walsingham, ed. Riley, ii. 177 : — 

'Tempore Parliamenti, cum Dominus Thomas Tryvet cum Rege 
sublimis equitaret ad Regis hospitium, quod fuit apud Bernewelle 
[Barnwell], dum nimis urget equum calcaribus, equus cadit, et omnia 
pene interiora sessoris dirumpit [cf. 1. 2691] ; protelavit tamen vitam in 
crastinum.' The saddle-bow or arsoun was the * name given to two 
curved pieces of wood or metal, one of which was fixed to the front of the 
saddle, and another behind, to give the rider greater security in his 
seat'; New Eng. Diet. s. v. Arson. Violent collision against the 
front saddle-bow produced very serious results. Cf. the Teseide, ix. 8 — 
* E '1 forte arcione gli premette il petto.' 

LI. 3614-7491 THE KNIGHTES TALE. 91 

2696. ' Then was he cut out of his armour.' I. e. the laces were cut, 
to spare the patient trouble. Cf. Statius, Theb. viii. 637-641. 
2698. in memorie, conscious. 

2710. That . . his, i.e. whose. So which . . his, in Troil. ii. 318. 

2711. * As a remedy/<?r other wounds,' &c. 

2712. 3. channes . . . save. * It may be obsers'cd that the salves, 
charms, and pharmacies of herbs were the principal remedies of the 
physician in the age of Chaucer. Save {salvia, the herb sage) was 
considered one of the most universally efficiently medieval remedies.' — 
Wright. Hence the proverb of the school of Salerno, ' Cur moriatur 
homo, dum salvia crescit in horto ? ' 

2722. iiis nat bui= is only, aveniure, accident. 

2725. O persone, one person. 

2733. Gree, preeminence, superiority; lit. rank, or a step; answering 
to La.t. gradus {not grattts). The phrases to 7uin the grce, i. e. to get 
the first place, and to bear the grce, i. e. to keep the first place, are still 
in common use in Scotland. See note to the Allit. Destruction of Troy, 
ed. Panton and Donaldson, 1. 1353, and Jamieson's Dictionary. 

2736. dayes three. Wright says the period of three days was the 
usual duration of a feast among our early forefathers. As far back as 
the seventh century, when Wilfred consecrated his church at Ripon, he 
held ' magnum convivium trium dierum et noctium, reges cum omni 
populo laetificantes.' — Eddius, Vit. S. Wilf. c. 17. 

2743. This fine passage is certainly imitated from the account of 
the death of Atys in Statius, Theb, viii. 637-651. I quote 11. 642-651, 
in which Atys fixes his last gaze upon his bride Ismene; as to 11. 637- 
641, see note to 1. 2696 above. 

'Prima uidet, caramque tremens locasta uocabat 
Ismenen : namque hoc solum moribunda prccatur 
Uox generi, solum hoc gelidis iam nomen inerrat 
Faucibus : exclamant famulae : tollebat in ora 
Uirgo manus ; tenuit saeuus pudor; attamen ire 
Cogitur (indulget summum hoc locasta iacenti), 
Ostenditque offertque : quater iam morte sub ipsa 
Ad nomen uisus, deiectaque fortiter ora 
Sustulit : illam unam neglecto lumine coeli 
Adspicit, et uultu non exsatiatur amato.' 

2745. 'Also when bloude rotteth in anye member, but it be taken 
out by skill or kinde, it tourneth into venime ' ; Batman upon Bar- 
tholom^, lib. iv. c. 7. bouk, paunch ; A. S. buc. 

2749. *The vertue Expulsiue is, which expelleth and putteth away 
that that is vnconuenient and hurtfuU to kinde' [nature]; Batman 
upon Bartholom^, lib. iii. c. 8. 

' This vertue [given by the soul to the body] hath three parts ; one is 
called natural!, and is in the lyuer : the other is called vitall, or 


spiriiall, and hath place in the heart ; the third is called Anvnai, 
and hath place in the brayn ' ; id. c. 14. 

' The vertue that is called Naiiiralis moueth the humours in the body 
of a beast by the vaines, and hath a principal place in the liuer ' ; id. c. 1 2. 

2761. This al and som, i.e. /his {is) the al and som, this is the short 
and long of it. A common expression ; cf. F. 1606 ; Troil. iv. 1193, 
1274. With 11. 2761-2808 compare the Teseide, x. 12, 37, 51, 54, 55, 
64, 102-3, 60-3, 1 1 1-2. 

2800. overcome. Tyrwhitt reads ovemome, overtaken, the pp. of 
ovcrnimen ; but none of the seven best IMSS. have this reading, 

2810. The real reason why Chaucer could not here describe the 
passage of Arcite's soul to heaven is because he had already copied 
Boccaccio's description, and had used it with respect to the death of 
Troilus ; see Troil. v. 1807-27 (stanzas 7, 8, 9 from the end). 

2815. iherMa7-s, &c., where I hope that Mars will, &c.; may Mars, &c. 

2822. s-ufich sorwe, so great sorrow. The line is defective in the 
third foot, which consists of a single (accented) syllable. 

2827-46. Cf. the Teseide, xi. 8, 7, 9-11, xii. 6. 

2853-962. Cf. the Teseide, xi. 13-16, 30, 31, 35, 38, 40, 37, 18, 26-7, 
22-5, 21, 27-9, 30, 40-67. 

2863-962. The whole of this description should be compared with 
the funeral rites at the burial of Archemorus, as described in Statius, 
Thebaid, bk. vi ; which Chaucer probably consulted, as well as the 
imitation of the same in Boccaccio's Teseide. For example, the * tree- 
list ' in 11. 2921-3 is not a little remarkable. The first list is in Ovid, 
Met. X. 90-105 ; with which cf. Vergil, JEn. vi. 180; Lucan, Pharsalia, 
iii. 440-445. Then we find it in Statius, vi. 98-106. After which, it 
reappears in Boccaccio, Teseide, xi. 22 ; in Chaucer, Pari, of Foules, 
176; in the present passage ; in Tasso, Gier. Lib. iii. 75; and in 
Spenser, F. Q. i. i. 8. There is also a list in Le Roman de la Rose, 
1338-1368. Again, we may just compare 11. 2951-2955 with the 
following lines in Lewis's translation of Statius : — 

* Around the pile an hundred horsemen ride, 
With arms reversed, and compass every side ; 
They faced the left (for so the rites require) ; 
Bent with the dust, the flames no more aspire. 
Thrice, thus disposed, they wheel in circles round 
The hallow'd corse : their clashing weapons sound. 
Four times their arms a crash tremendous yield, 
And female shrieks re-echo through the field.' 


Moreover, Statius imitates the whole from Vergil, yEn. xi. 185-196. 
And Lydgate copies it all from Chaucer in his Sege of Thebes, part 3 
(near the end). 

2864. Funeral he myghte al accomplice (Elles.) ; Funeral he inighie 
hem all complise (Corp., Pet.). The line is defective in the first foot. 

LI. 2761-993-] THE KNIGHTES TALE. 93 

Funeral is an adjective. Tyrwhitt and Wright insert Of before it, 
without authority of any kind ; see 1. 2942. 

2874. White gloves were used as mourning at the funeral of an 
unmarried person ; see Brand, Pop. Antiq. ed. Ellis, ii. 283. 

2885. ' And surpassing others in weeping came Emily.' 

2891. See the description of old English funerals in Rock, Church of 
our Fathers, ii. 488 : * If the deceased was a knight, his helmet, shield, 
sword, and coat-armour were each carried by some near kinsman, or 
by a herald clad in his blazoned tabard ' ; &c. 

2895. Cf. ' deux ars Turquois,' i. e. two Turkish bows ; Rom. de la 
Rose, 913 ; see vol. i. p. 132. 

2903. Compare the mention of 'blake clothes' in I. 2884. When 
* master Machyll, altherman, was bered, all the chyrche [was] hangyd 
with blake and armes [coats-of-arms],and the strett [street] with blake 
and armes, and the place ' ; &c. — Machyn's Diary (Camden Soc.) p. 171. 

2923. ivhippeltree (better unppeltree) is the cornel-tree or dogwood 
{Comics sanguined) ; the same as the Mid. Low G. ivipel-boni, the 
cornel. Cf. ^ ivepe, or lueype, the dog-tree'; Hexham. See N. and Q. 
7 S. vi. 434. 

2928. Aviadrides \ i.e. Hamadryades \ see Ovid, Met. i. 192, 193, 
690. The idea is taken from Statius, Theb. vi. 110 — 113. 

2943. men made thefyr (Hn., Cm.) ; maad was the fire (Corp., Pet.). 

2953. loud (Elles.) ; heih (Harl.) ; boioe (Corp.). 

2958. * Chaucer seems to have confounded the wake-plays of his own 
time with the funeral games of the antients.' — Tyrwhitt. Cf. Troil. v. 
304 ; and see ' Funeral Entertainments ' in Brand's Popular Antiquities. 

2962. in no disioynt, with no disadvantage. Cf. Verg. ^En. iii. 281. 

2967-86. Cf. the Teseide, xii. 3-5. 

2968. Lounsbury (Studies in Chaucer, i. 345) proposes to put a full 
stop at the end of this line, after teres ; and to put no stop at the end 
of 1. 2969. 

2991-3. that fiiire cheyne of love. This sentiment is taken from 
Boethius, lib. ii. met. 8 : ' ))at J>e world with stable feith / varieth 
acordable chaungynges // ])at the contraryos qualite of elementz holden 
amonge hem self aliaunce perdurable / ))at phebus the sonne with his 
goldene chariet / bryngeth forth the rosene day / ))at the mone hath 
commaundement ouer the nyhtes // whiche nyhtes hesperus the eue- 
sterre hat[h] browt // J>at \q se gredy to flowen constreyneth with 
a certeyn ende hise floodes / so J)at it is nat l[e]ueful to strechche hise 
brode termes or bowndes vpon the erthes // )>at is to seyn to couere 
alle the erthe // Al this a-cordaunce of thinges is bownden with looue 
/ })at gouemeth erthe and see and hath also commaundementz to the 
heuenes / and yif this looue slakede the brydelis / alle thinges |)at 
now louen hem togederes / wolden maken a batayle contynuely and 
stryuen to fordoon the fasoun of this worlde / the which they now leden 
in acordable feith by fayre moeuynges // this looue halt to-gideres 
peoples ioygned with an hooly bond / and knytteth sacrement of 


maryages of chaste looues // And love enditeth lawes to trewe felawes 

// O weleful weere mankynde / yif thilke loue ]>at gouerneth heuene . 

gouerned[e] yowre corages.' — Chaucer's Boethius, ed. Morris, p. 62 ; 

cf. also pp. 87, 143. (See the same passage in vol. ii. p. 50 ; cf. pp. y^) 

122.) And cf, the Teseide, i-x. 51 ; Homer, II. viii. 19. Also Rom. de 

la Rose, 16988 : — 

* La bole cha^ne dorde 

Qui les quatre elemens enlace.' 

2994. What follows is taken from Boethius, lib. iv. pr. 6 : * ]>e en- 
gendrynge of alle ))inges, quod she, and alle \>Q progressiouns of 
muuable nature, and alle J)at moeue)) in any manere, takij) hys causes, 
hys ordre, and hys formes, of ]>e stablenesse of ]>e deuyne ))ou3t ; [and 
thilke deuyne thowht] ))at is yset and put in ))e toure, ))at is to seyne in 
\>c heyjt of J)e simplicite of god, stablisij' many manere gyses to Jiinges 
jjat ben to don.' — Chaucer's Boethius, ed. Morris, p. 134. (See the 
same passage in vol. ii. p. 115). 

3005. Chaucer again is indebted to Boethius, lib. 10, for what 
follows : * For al J)ing })at is cleped inperfit, is proued inperfit by ])e 
amenusynge of perfeccioun, or of |)ing |)at is perfit ; and her-of comeJ» 
it, ^at in cuery |)ing general, yif J)at J)at men seen any )>ing J)at is in- 
perfit, certys in J)ilke general J)er mot ben somme ])ing \>at is perfit. 
For yif so be \>ai perfeccioun is don awey, men may nat |)inke nor seye 
fro whennes ))ilke ))ing is ))at is cleped inperfit. For |3e nature of |)inges 
ne token nat her bygynnyng of J)inges amenused and inperfit ; but it 
procedi)) of }>ingus J)at ben al hool and absolut, and descende]> so doune 
into outerest })inges and into ))ingus empty and wi|)oute fruyt ; but, as 
I haue shewed a litel her-byforne, J)at yif ))er be a blisfulnesse ])at be frele 
and vein and inperfit, \>er may no man doute J)at j^er nys som blisfulnesse 
J)at is sad, stedfast, and perfit.' — Chaucer (as above), p. 89. (See the 
same passage in vol. ii. pp. 74, 75.) 

3013. 'And thilke same ordre newethayein alle thingesgrowyngand 
fallyng adoune by semblables progressiouns of seedes and of sexes.' — 
Chaucer's Boethius, ed. Morris, p. 137. (See the same passage in 
vol. ii. p. 117 ; i.e in bk. iv. pr. 6. 1. 103). 

3016. seen at ye, see at a glance. Gower, ed. Pauli, i. %i, has : — 
' The thing so open is at theye,' i. e. is so open at the eye, is so obvious. 
' Now is the tyme sen at cyc^ i. e. clearly seen ; Coventry Myst. p. 122. 

3017-68. Cf. the Teseide, xii. 7-10, 6, 11, 13, 9, 12-17, 19. 

3042. So in Troilus, iv. 1586 : 'Thus maketh vertu of necessite'; 
and in Squire's Tale, pt. ii. 1. 247 (Group F, 1. 593) ; 'That I made 
vertu of necessite.* It is from Le Roman de la Rose, 14217 : — 

'S'il ne fait de necessity 
So in Matt. Paris, ed. Luard, i. 20. Cf. Horace, Carm. i. 24 : — 
' Durum ! sed leuius fit patientia 
Ouidquid corrigere est nefas.' 

1,1.2994-3152.] THE MILLER'S PROLOGUE. 95 

3068. Cf. ' The time renneth toward right fast, 

Joy Cometh after whan the sorrow is past.' 

Hawes' Pastime of Pleasure, ed. Wright, p. 148, 
3089. oghte to passen rights should surpass mere equity or justice. 
3094-102. Cf. the Teseide, xii. 69, 72, 83. 
3105. Cf. Book of the Duchesse, 1287-97. 

The Miller's Prologue. 

The Miller's name is Robht (1. 3129). 

3110. The reading conipanye (as in old editions and Tyrwhitt) in 
place of route makes the line too long. 

3115. I.e. the bag is unbuckled, the budget is opened; as when 
a packman displays his wares. See Group I, 1. 26. 

3119. To quyte with, to requite the Knight with, for his excellent 
Tale. This position of with, next its verb, is the almost invariable 
M. E. idiom. Cf. F. 471, 641, C. 345 ; Notes to P. PI., C. i. 133, &c. 

3120. 'Very drunk, and all pale'; cf. A. 4150, H. 30. 

3124. I. e. in a loud, commanding voice, such as that of Pilate in 
the Mystery Plays. In the Chester Plays, Pilate is of rather a meek 
disposition ; but in the York Plays, pp. 270, 307, 320, he is represented 
as boastful and tyrannical, as is evidently here intended. The 
expression seems to have been proverbial. Palsgrave has : ' In 
a pylates voyce, a hatilte voyx'\ p. 837. Udall, tr. of Erasmus' Apo- 
phthegms (repr. 1877), last page, has — 'speaking out of measure loude 
and high, and altogether in Pilaies voice} 

3125. by armes, i.e. by the arms of Christ ; see note to C. 651. 
3129. ' My dear brother ' ; a common form ; cf. 3848, below, and 

1 1 36, above. 

3131. thriftily, i. c. profitably, to a useful purpose ; cf. B. 1165. 

3134. a develwey, in the devil's name ; see Skelton, ed. Dyce, ii. 2S7 ; 
originally, in the way to the devil, with all ill luck. Compare — 

' Hundred, chapitle, court, and shire, 
Al hit goth a devel way ' [to the bad]. 

Polit. Songs, ed. Wright, Camd. Soc. p. 254. 

See note to 1. 3713 below. 

3140. Wyte it, lay the blame for it upon, of Sotithwerk, i.e. of tliie 
Tabard inn. 

3143. ' Made a fool of the wright,' i.e. of the carpenter; cf. A. 586, 
614 ; also A. 391 1, and the note. 

3145. The Reeve interferes, because he was a carpenter himself 
(A. 614). ' Let alone your ignorant drunken ribaldry.' 

3152. A reference to a proverbial expression which is given in Rob. 
of Brunne's Handlyng Synne, 1892 : — 

' Men sey, ther a man ys gelous. 
That " ther ys a kokewolde at hous." ' 


Compare also Le Roman de la Rose, 9167-9171, which expresses 
a similar opinion. 

3155-6. Tyrwhitt omits these two lines in his text, but admits, in his 
Notes, that they should have been inserted. The former of the 
two lines is repeated from 1. 277 of the original (but rejected) Prologue 
to the Legend of Good Women, biit-if thoii viadde, unless thou 
art going mad. 

31GL oon, one, i.e. a cuckold; or, possibly, an ox (1. 3159). As an 
ox was a ' horned ' animal, it comes to the same thing, according to the 
miserable jest so common in our dramatists. 

3165. goddes foyson, sufficient abundance, i. e. all he wants, all the 
affection he expects, there, in his wife. 

31GG. A defective line ; read— Of | the rem' | nant, &c. 

The Milleres Tale. 

On the Miller's Tale, see Afiglia, i. 38, ii. 135, vii (appendix), 81 ; 
and see the remarks in vol. iii. p. 395. 

3188. gno/, churl, lit. a thief ; a slang word, of Hebrew origin ; 
Wth. ganav, a thief, Exod. xxii. I. The same as the mod. Y.. gonoph, 
the epithet applied to Jo in Dickens, Bleak House, ch. xix. Halliwell's 
Diet, quotes from The Norfolke Furies, 1623 — 'The coviUXxy gnoffes^ 
Hob, Dick, and Hick, With clubbes and clouted shoon,' &c. Drant, 
in his tr. of Horace, Satires, fol. A i, back (i 566), has : — 'The chubbyshe 
gnof that toyles and moyles.' Todd, in his Illustration of Chaucer, 
p. 260, says — * See A Comment upon the Miller's Tale and the Wife of 
Bath, i2mo. Lond. 1665, p. 8, [where we find] "A rich gfto/e ; a rich 
grub, or miserable caitiff, as I render it ; which interpretation, to be 
proper and significant, I gather by the sence of that antient metre : 

The caitiff gnof sed to his crue, 

My meney is many, my incomes but few. 

This, as I conceive, explains the author's meaning ; which seems no less 
seconded by that antient English bard : 

That gnof, that grub, of pesants blude. 
Had store of goud, yet did no gude." ' 

The note in Bell's Chaucer, connecting it with oaf, is wrong. The 
carpenter's name was John (1. 3501). 

3190. This shews that students used often to live in lodgings, as is 
so common at Cambridge, where the number of students far exceeds 
the number of college-rooms. 

3192, 3. Chaucer himself knew something of astrology, as shewn 
by his numerous references to it. The word conchisio7is in 1. 3193 is 
the technical name for 'propositions' or problems. In his Treatise 
on the Astrolabe, prologue (1. 9), he says to his son Lowis — ' I purpose 
to teche thee a certein nombre of conclusions apertening to the same 

LI. 3155-316.] THE MILLERES TALE. 


instrument.' We here learn that one object of astrology was to answer 
questions relating to coming weather, as well as with reference to 
almost every other future event. 

3195. in certein houres. In astrology, much depended on times ; 
certain times were supposed to be more favourable than others for 
obtaining solutions of problems. The great book for prognostications 
of weather was the Cale7idrier des Bergiers, an English version of 
which was frequently reprinted as The Shepheards Kalendar. The old 
almanacks also predicted the weather ; see Ben Jonson's Every Man 
Out of his Humour, A. i. so. i — '■ Enter Sordido, with an almanack in 
his hand.' 

3199. hendcy gracious, mild ; hence, gentle, courteous ; orig. near 
at hand, hence, useful, serviceable; A. S. gehende. Ill spelt hendy in 
Tyrwhitt. Several passages from this Tale are quoted and illustrated 
by Warton, Hist. E. Poetry, sect, xvi ; which see. 

3203. hosielrye, lodging. Nicholas had his room to himself; 
whereas it was usual for two or more students to have a room in 
common, even in college. 

3207. cetewale, zedoary ; but commonly, though improperly, applied 
to valerian ( Valeriana pyrenaica) ; also spelt setwall. Gerarde, in 
his Herball (ed. 1597, p. 919), says that ' it hath beene had (and is to 
this day among the poore people of our northeme parts) in such 
veneration amongst them, that no brothes, pottages, or phisicall 
meates are woorthe anything, if setwall were not at one end ' ; &c. 
See Britten's Plant-Names (E. D. S.). See note to B. 1950. 

3208. Almageste; Arab, almajisii ; from al, the, and niajisti, for 
Gk. /ifyiVrr;, short for nfyiarr} avvra^is, ' greatest composition,' a name 
given to the great astronomical treatise of Ptolemy ; hence extended 
to signify, as here, a text-book on astrology. See Hallam, Middle 
Ages, c. i. yy. Ptolemy's work ' was in thirteen books. He also wrote 
four books of judicial astrology. He was an Egyptian astrologist, 
and flourished under Marcus Antoninus.' — Warton. See D. 182, 325, 
2289. And see my note to Chaucer's Astrolabe, i. 17 ; vol. iii. p. 354. 

3209. See Chaucer's own treatise on The Astrolabe, which he 
describes. It was an instrument consisting of several flat circular 
brass plates, with two revolving pointers, used for taking altitudes, and 
other astronomical purposes. 

longitigefor, suitable for, belonging to. 

3210. aiignm-sto7ies, counters for calculation. Aiigrim is algorism 
(see New Eng. Diet.), or the Arabic system of arithmetic, performed 
with the Arabic numerals, which became known in Europe from 
translations of a work on algebra by the Arab mathematician Abu 
Ja'far Mohammed Ben Musa, surnamed al-KJiowdrazini^ox the native 
of Khwarazm (Khiva). Chaucer speaks of ' nombres in atigrim ' ; 
Astrolabe, i. 9. 3. 

'^212. faldifig, a kind of coarse cloth ; see note on A. 391. 

3216. Angelus ad virginem. This hymn occurs in MS. Arundel 

•{• -P- ^ -_ 


248, leaf 154, written about 1260, both in Latin and English, and with 
musical notes. It is printed, with a facsimile of part of the MS., at 
p. 69s of the print of MS. Harl. 7334, issued by the Chaucer Society. 
The first verse of the Latin version runs thus : — 

'Angelus ad uirginem subintrans in conclaue, 
Virginis formidinem demulcens, inquit "Aue! 
Aue ! regina uirginum celi terreque dominum 
concipies et paries intacta, 
salutem hominum tu, porta celi facta, 
medela criminum." ' 

Hence the subject of the anthem is the Annunciation. 

3217. the kifiges note, the name of some tune or song. There is 
nothing to identify it with a chant royal, described by Warton, Hist. 
E. Poet. ii. 221, note b. Warton says that 'Chaucer calls the chant 
royal . . . a kifigis note^ But Chaucer says ' THE Jdnges note,' which 
makes all the difference; it is merely a bad guess. A song entitled 
*Kyng villyamis note,' or ' King William's note,' is mentioned Jn the 
Complaint of Scotland (1549), ed. Murray, p. 64. 

3220. 'According to the money provided by his friends and his own 

3223. eight-e-ten-e has four syllables ; cf. B. 5. Tyrwhitt read it as 
of two syllables, and inserted / gesse after she ivas. He duly notes 
that the words I gesse are 'not in the MSS.' 

3226. 'And considered himself to be like.' Tyrwhitt has belike, 
which he probably took to be an adverb ; but this is a gross 
anachronism. The adv. belike is unknown earlier than the year 1533. 

3227. Catotni, Dionysius Cato ; see note to G. 688. But Tyrwhitt 
notes, that 'the maxim here alluded to is not properly one of Cato's ; 
but I find it (he says) in a kind of Supplement to the Moral Distichs 
entitled Facetiis, int. Auctores octo morales, Lugd. 1538, cap. iii. 

" Due tibi prole parem sponsam moresque venustam, 
Si cum pace velis vitam deducere justam." ' 

He refers to the catalogue of MSS. in Trin. Coll. Dublin, No. 275 
(under Urhanus, another name for Facet us) ; and to Bale, Cent. iii. 17, 
and Fabricius, Bib. Med. Aetatis. 

3230. Note is, in the singular. * Crabbed age and youth cannot live 
together ' ; — Passionate Pilgrim. 

3235. ceynt, girdle ; barred, adorned with cross stripes. Warton 
could not understand the word ; but a bar is a transverse stripe on 
a girdle or belt, as in A. 329, which see. 

3236-7. barm-clooth, lap-cloth, i.e. an apron 'over her loins.' 
gore, a triangular slip, used as an insertion to widen a garment in any 
particular place. The apron spread out towards the bottom, owing 
rather, it appears, to inserted ' gores ' below than to pleats above. Or 
the pleats may be called gores here, from their triangular shape. 


Cf. A. S. gara, an angular projection of land, as in Kensington 
Gore. * Gheroni, the gores or gussets of a smocke or shirt ' ; Florio's 
Ital. Diet. See note to B. 1979, and the note to 1. 3321 below. 

3238. branded, embroidered ; cf. B. 3659, Leg. Good Women, 227. 
Of'vs\ 1. 3240 means ' with.' 

324L vohiper, lit. 'enveloper' or 'wrapper'; hence, kerchief, or 
cap. In 1. 4303, it means a night-cap. In Wright's Vocabularies, it 
translates Lat. calamandriim (568, 28), inuohitariuvi (590, 28), and 
mafora (594, 19). In the Prompt. Parv, we find: ' 7'^/j//^r^, kerche, 
teristrum '; and in the Catholicon, ^ volyper, caliend[r]um.' In Baret's 
Alvearie, h. 596, we find: 'A woman's cap, hood, or bonet, Calyptra, 
Caliendrum^ The tapes of this cap were ' of the same suit ' as the 
embroidery of her collar, i. e. were of black silk. 

3245. smale y-pulled^ i.e. partly plucked out, to make them narrow, 
even, and well-marked. 

3247. Tyrwhitt at first had ^for to see,' but corrected it to ' on to 
see,' i. e. to look upon. Cf. Leg. Good Women, 2425. 

3248. pere-iofteite, early-ripe pear. Tyrwhitt refers us to a F. poire 
jeunetie, or an Ital. pero giovatieito, i. e. very young pear-tree ; but 
I believe the explanation is as imaginary as are these terms, which 
I seek for in vain. I take it that he has been misled by a false 
etymology from F. jeune, Ital. giovane, young, whereas the reference 
is to the early-ripe pear called in O.F. poire de hastivel (F. hdtiveaii) ; 
see hastivel in Godefroy. The corresponding E. term is getmiiings, 
applied to apples, but applicable to pears also ; and I take the 
etymology to be from F. Jeatt, John, because such apples and pears 
ripen about St. John's day (June 24), which is very early. Cotgrave 
has: ^Hastivel, a soon-ripe apple, called the St. John's apple.' 
Littrd, s. v. poire, has : ' La poire appellee ^ Paris de messire Jean est 
celle qu'en Dauphine et Languedoc Ton nomme de coulis.' Lacroix 
(Manners, &c. during the Middle Ages, p. 116) says that, in the 
thirteenth century, one of the best esteemed pears was the hastiveau, 
which was ' an early sort, and no doubt the golden pear now called 
St. Jean.' Finally, we learn from Piers Plowman, C. xiii. 221, that 
*pere-Ionettes ' were very sweet and very early ripe, and therefore 
very soon rotten ; see my note to that line. The text, accordingly, 
compares this young and forward beauty to the newe (i.e. fresh- 
leaved) early-ripe pear-tree ; and there is much propriety in the 
simile. Of course, this explanation is somewhat of a guess ; and 
perhaps I may add another possible etymology, viz. from jatine, 
yellow, with reference to the golden colour of the pear. Cf. jaul7iette, 
in Cotgrave, as a name for St. John's wort, and the iorm. Jloure-jonetiis 
in the King's Quair, st. 47. 

3251. *With silk tassels, and pearls (or pearl-shaped knobs or 
buttons) made of the metal called latoun.' Such is Tyrwhitt's simple 
explanation. In Riley's Memorials of London, p. 398, we find that 
a man was accused of having ' silvered 240 buttons of latone ... for 

H 2 


purses.' The notes in Warton are doubly misleading, first confusing 
hiioun with chekla/oun (which are unconnected words), and then 
quoting the expression 'perled cloth of gold,' which is another thing 
again. As to lafotift, see note to C, 350, and cf. A. 699, B. 2067, &c. 

3254. popelo/e, darling, poppet. Not connected with papilhn, but 
with Y . poup^e and Y., puppet. Halliwell gives: ^ Poplety a term of 
endearment, generally applied to a young girl : poppet is still in 
common use.' Cotgrave has : *■ Popeli7i, masc. a little finicall darling.' 
Godefroy gives : *■ pottpelet, m. petit poupon.' 

325G. Wright says: 'The gold noble of this period was a very 
beautiful coin ; specimens are engraved in Ruding's Annals of the 
Coinage. It was coined in the Tower of London [as here said], the 
place of the principal London mint.' It was worth 6i". 8^., and first 
coined about 1339. See C. 907, and note. 

3258. ' Sitting on a barn.' Repeated in C. 397. 

326L bragot, a sweet drink, made of ale and honey fermented 
together; afterwards, the honey was replaced by sugar and spice. 
See Bragget in New E. Diet. The full receipt for 'Braket' is given 
in Strutt, Manners and Customs, iii. 74; it contained 4 gallons of ale 
to a pint of honey. In 1783, it was made of ale, sugar, and spices, 
and drunk at Easter; Brand, Pop. Antiq. i. 112. Spelt bragot, 
Palladius on Husbandry, p. 90, 1. 812 ; &c. Of British origin ; Welsh 
bragawd\ cf O. Irish brae, later braich, malt. See also the note on 
Bragott in the Catholicon, ed. Herrtage. 

3262. Cf. ' An appyll-hurde, pomarium ' ; Catholicon Anglicum. 

3263-4. These two lines are cited by Dryden with approval, in the 
Preface to his Fables, as being ' not much behind our present English.' 
We are amazed to find that Dryden condemns Chaucer's lines as 
unequal ; and coolly remarks that * equality of numbers . . . was either 
not known, or not always practised in Chaucer's age.' The black-letter 
editions which Dryden read were, in fact, full of misspelt words ; but 
even in them, he might have found plenty of good lines, if he had not 
been so prejudiced and (to say the truth) conceited. 

3268. pryme7-oIe, primrose ; as in Gower, C. A. iii. 130. pigges-nye, 
pig's eye, a term of endearment ; pig's eyes being (as Tyrwhitt notes) 
remarkably small. Cf. ' Waked with a wench, pretty peat, pretty love, 
and my sweet pretty pigsnie'' ; Peele, Old Wives' Tale, ed. Dyce 
(1883), p. 455, col. I. And see Skelton, ed. Dyce, i. 28, ii. 97, 104. 
In fact, it is common. Brand, quoting Douce (Illust. of Shak. ii. 151), 
says that * Shadwell not only uses the word pigsney in this sense, but 
also btrdsney [bird's eye] ; see his Plays, i. 357, iii. 385.' See also 
pigsney in Todd's Johnson, where one quotation has the {orrapigs eie. 
A71 ye became a 7tye ; hence the pi. iiyes, and even Jtynon ( = eyne), as 
in Halliwell. See note to P. Plowman, C. xx. 306, where bler-eyed, 
i.e. blear-eyed, appears as bler-nyed m the B-text. 

3269. leggen, to lay. Tyrwhitt has iiggen, to lie, which is but 
poor grammar. 

Lt 3254 331.1 THE MILLERES TALE. lor 

3274. Oseneye, Oseney, in the suburbs of Oxford, where there was 
an Abbey of St. Austin's Canons ; cf. 1. 3666. 

3286. harrow (Pt. Iiarowe), a cr>' for help, a ciy of distress ; O.F. 
haro, harou, the same ; see Godefroy. Cf. 11. 3825, 4307. 

' Primus Demon. Oute, haro, out, out ! harkyn to this home ' — &c. 
Tovvncley Mysteries, Surtees Society, p. 307 (in the Mystery of 
^^ Judidum.'') So in the Coventiy Mysteries, we have : — 

* Omnes demones clamant. Harrow and out ! what xal we say ? 

harrow ! \\e crye, owt ! And Alas ! 
Alas, harrow ! is };is \a\. day ? . . . 
Alas, harrow ! and owt ! we crye.' 

(Play Q){ Judgment^ 

' My mother was afrayde there had ben theves in her house, and she 
kryed out /laroll alarome (F. elle sescria harol alar me) ' ; Palsgrave, 
s. V. crye, p. 501. See Haro in Littre, hara in Schade. Cf. 1. 3825 ; 
and the note in Dyce's Skelton, ii. 274. 

3291. I.e. St. Thomas of Canterbury. 

3299. * A clerk would have employed his time ill.' 

3308. Defective in the first foot ; scan : Crist | es, &c. Tyrwhitt 
inserts Of before Cristes, and coolly observes, in his Notes, that it is 
' added from conjecture only.' He might have said, that it makes bad 
grammar. And it is from such manipulated lines as this that the public 
forms its judgement of Chaucer's verse ! Is it fiot/tifig that all the 
authorities begin the line alike ? 

3316. shode, not 'hair,' as in Tyrwhitt, but 'parting of the hair.' 

3318. ' It was the fashion to wear shoes with the upper leather cut 
into a variety of beautiful designs, resembling the tracery of window- 
heads, through which the bright colour of the green, blue, or scarlet 
stocking beneath was shewn to great advantage';— Rock, Church of 
our Fathers, ii. 239, with illustrations at p. 240. Ponies ivindoiues, 
windows like those in St. Paul's Cathedral ; hence, designs resembling 
them. Wright conjectures that there may even be a reference to the 
rose-window of old St. Paul's ; and he says that examples of such shoes 
still exist, in the museum of Mr. C. Roach Smith. Good illustrations 
of these beautifully cut shoes are given in Fairholt's Costume, pp. 64, 
65, who also notes that ' in Dugdale's view of old St. Paul's . . . the rose- 
window in the transept is strictly analogous in design.' The Latin 
name for such shoes was calcei fejiestrati, which see in Ducange. Rock 
also quotes the phrase coriiim fcJiestratum from Pope Innocent III. 
Observe the mention of his scarlet hose in the next line. Cf. note to 
Rom. of the Rose, 843, in vol. i. p. 423. 

3321. wache/, a shade of blue. Tyrwhitt wrongly connects it with 
the town of Watchei, in Somersetshire. But it is French. Littr^, s.v. 
vaciet, gives : * Couleur d'hyacinthe ou vaciet^ colour of the hya- 
cinth, or bilberry (Lat. uacciniuni). Roquefort defines vaciet as a 
shrub which bears a dark fruit fit for dyeing violet ; it is applied, he 


says, both to the fruit and the dye ; and he calls it Vacchiiuvi hysginwn. 
Phillips says watchet is 'a kind of blew colour.' Todd's Johnson cites 
from Milton's Hist, of Muscovia, c. 5, '' watchet ox sky-coloured cloth'; 
and the line, 'Who stares, in Germany, at ivafchet cyes,'tr. of Juvenal, 
Sat. xiii, wrongly attributed to Dryden. See examples in Nares from 
Browne, Lyly, Drayton, and Taylor : and, in Richardson, from Beau- 
mont and Fletcher, Hackluyt, Spenser, and Ben Jonson. Cotgrave 
explains Y. pers as ' watchet, blunket, skie-coloured,' and couleur perse 
as ' skie-colour, azure-colour, a blunket, or light blue.' See Blunket in 
the New E. Diet., and my article in Philolog. Soc. Trans. Nov. 6, 1885, 
p. 329. Webster has ' ivatchet stockings,' The Malcontent, A. iii. sc. I. 
Lydgate has ^watchet blewe'; see Warton, Hist. Eng. Poet. (1840), 
ii. 280. 

3322. poyntes^ tagged laces, as in Shakespeare. MS. HI. has here 
a totally different line, involving the word gores (of. 1. 3237 above), viz. 
* Schapen with goores in the newe get,' i. e. in the new fashion. 

3329. Tyrwhitt says : — ' The school of Oxford seems to have been in 
much the same estimation for its dancing, as that of Stratford for its 
French' ; see 1. 125. He probably meant this satirically ; but it may 
mean the very opposite, or something nearly so. The Stratford-at-Bow 
French was excellent of its kind, but unlike that of France (see note 
to 1. 125) ; and probably the Oxford dancing was, likewise, of no mean 
quality after its kind, having twenty * maneres.' 

Z5B1. rui>zl>/e; also ribible (4396). Cf. 'where was his fedylle 
[fiddle] or hys ribibW^ Knight de la Tour, cap. 117. See Ribibe, 
Ribible in Halliwell ; The Squire of Low Degree (in Ritson), 1. 107 1 ; 
Warton, Hist. Eng. Poetry, ii. 194. Also called a rebeck, as in Milton. 
A two-stringed musical instrument, played with a bow, of Moorish 
origin ; Arab, rabab. ' Hcc vitida, a rybybe ' ; Wright's Gloss. 738. 19. 

3332. quinible. Not a musical instrument, as Tyrwhitt supposed, but 
a kind of voice. It is not singing consecutive fifths upon a plain song, 
as Mr. Chappell once thought (Pop. Music of the Olden Time, i. 34) ; 
but, as afterwards explained by him in Notes and Queries, 4 S. vi. 117, 
it refers to a very high voice. The quinible was an octave higher 
than the treble ; the quatreble was an octave higher than the mean. 
The mean was intermediate between iht plain-song or tenor (so called 
from its Jwlding on the notes) and the treble. It means 'at the 
extreme pitch of the voice.' Skelton miswrites it quibyble. 

3333. giterne, a kind of guitar. ' The gittern and the kit the 
wand'ring fiddlers like ' ; Drayton, Polyolbion, song 4. See note to 
P. PL C. xvi. 208 ; Prompt. Parv. p. 196. 

3337. squayjnous, squeamish, particular. Tyrwhitt says — ' I know 
not how to make this sense agree with what follows ' (1. 3807). But 
it is easy to understand that he was, ordinarily, squeamish, retentive ; 
exceptionally, far otherwise. In the Knight de la Tour, cap. cxiv, 
p. 155, there is a story of a lady who waited on her old husband, and 
nursed him under most trying conditions ; 'and unnethe there might 

LI. 3333-58.] THE MILLERES TALE. 103 

haue be founde a woman but atte sum tyme she wolde haue loihed 
her, or ellys to haue be right scoymous ta haue do the seruice as thes 
good lady serued her husbonde contynuelly.' In a version of the 
Te Deum, composed about 1400, we read — * Thou were not skoyvtus of 
the maidens wombe '; Maskell, Monumenta RituaHa,ii. 14^. Qi/ squay- 
inose, verecundus,' CathoHcon ; ' skeytnoivse, or sweyviows ox queymows, 
abhominativus '; Prompt. Parv. Spelt squmous (badly), Court of Love, 
1. 332 ; and sqy?notcse in Morris's reprint of it. See Desdaigneux 
in Cotgrave. 'To be squamis/i, or nice, delicias facere'; Baret's 
Alvearie. * They that be subiect to Satume ... be not skoymous of 
foule and stinking clothing ' ; Batman on Bartholome, lib. 8. c. 23. In 
Weber's Metrical Romances, i. 359, we find : 

* Than was the leuedi of the hous 
A proude dame and an envieous, 
Hokerfulliche missegging, 
Squeymoiis and eke scorning.' 

Lay le Freine, 11. 59-62. 

These examples quite establish the sense. The derivation is from the 
rare A.F. escoymous, which occurs in P. Meyer's ed. of Nicole Bozon 
(See. des Anc. Textes Frangais), p. 158 :— * si il poy mange e beyt poy, 
lors est gageous ou escoymous^ if he eats and drinks little, then is he 
delicate or nice. Robert of Brunne has the spelling esquayinous ; 
Handlyng Synne, 1, 7249. 

3338. dangerous, sparing ; see the Glossary. 

3340. Cutts (Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages, p. 219) 
seems to think that the clerk went abotd the parish with his censer, as 
he sometimes certainly went about with holy water. Warton, on the 
other hand, says that 'on holidays it was his business to carry the 
censer about the church, and he takes this opportunity of casting un- 
lawful glances on the handsomest ladies of the parish.' Warton is 
clearly right here, for there is an allusion to the ladies coming forward 
with the usual offering (1. 3350) ; cf. note to A. 450. And see Persones 
Tale, I. 407. 

ZZhA:. for paramours, for love's sake : a redundant expression, since 
par means 'for.' Cf n. to 1. 1155, at p. 67. 

3358. shot-windowe. Brockett's Northern Glossary gives : * Shot- 
window, a projecting window, common in old houses' ; but this may 
have been copied from Home Tooke, who seems to have guessed at, 
and misunderstood, the passage, below, in Gawain Douglas. In the 
new edition of Jamieson, Mr. Donaldson defines Schot as ' a window 
set on hinges and opening like a shutter,' and explains that, ' in the 
West of Scotland, a projecting window is called an out-shot witidoiVy 
whereas a shot-ioifidoiv or shot is one that can be opened or shut like 

^ ' Thou were nought skoytnus to take the maydenes womb ' is the reading 
given in The Prymer, ed. H. Littlehales, p. 22. 


a door or shutter by turning on its hinges.' It is material to the stoiy 
that the window here mentioned should be readily opened and shut. 
The passage in G. Douglas's tr. of Virgil, prol. to bk. vii, evidently 
refers to a window of this character, as the poet first says : — 

' Ane scJtot-ivyndo vnschet a lytill on char,' 

i. e. I unshut the shot-window, and left it a little ajar ; and he goes on 
to say that the weather was so cold that he soon shut it again — 

' The schoi I clossit, and drew inwart in hy.' 

See also 11. 3695, 6 below. In the next line, upon merely means ' in ' 
or * formed in.' 

It is curious that, in Bell's Chaucer, a quotation is given from the 
Ballad of Clerk Saunders (Border Minstrelsy, vol. ii.) to shew that shot- 
7uindo7u cannot mean * shut window.' But it does not prove that it 
cannot mean ' hinge-shutting window,' as I have shewn the right sense 

to be. < 'pi;^en she has ta'en a crystal wand, 

And she has .stroken her troth thereon ; 
She has given it him out at the shot-window, 
With mony a sad sigh and heavy groan.' 

3361. Tyrwhitt absurdly says that 11. 3361, 3362 should be broken 
into four short verses, and that lady (sic) rimes with be ! In Bell's 
edition, they are printed in small type ! They are just ordinary lines ; 
and be (pronounced nearly as modern bay') certainly never rimed with 
lady— nor yet with la-dy — in Chaucer's time, when the final y was 
sounded like the modem ee in jneet, and would rather have rimed with 
a word like my. It is a mere whim. 

3375. menes, intermediate people, go-betweens ; see Mene, sb., in 
Gloss, to P. Plowman, with numerous references. Brocage is the em- 
ployment of a ' broker ' or agent, and so means much the same. See 
Brokage in New E. Diet., and Brocage in Gloss, to P. Plowman. 

3377. brokkinge, with quick regular inteiTuptions, quavering, in 
a 'broken ' manner. See Brock in New E. Diet. 

3379. ivafrcs, wafers. * They (F. gaufres) are usually sold at fairs, 
and are made of a kind of batter poured into an iron instrument, 
which shuts up like a pair of snuffers. It is then thrust into the fire, 
and when it is with-drawn and opened, X\ie gau/re, or wafer, is taken- 
outand eaten "piping bote out of the glede," as here described.' — Note 
in Bell's Chaucer. 

3380. viede, reward, money ; distinct from vicetk, mead, in 1. 3378. 
The sense oimede is very amply illustrated in P. Plowman. L. 3380 
intimates that, as she lived in a town, she could spend money at 
any time. 

3382. A side-note, in several MSS., says : * Unde Ouidius : Ictibus 
agrestis.' But the quotation is not from Ovid. 

3384. The parish-clerks often took part in the Mystery Plays. The 
part of Herod was an important one ; cf. Hamlet, iii. 2. 15. 

LI. 3361-480.] THE MILLERES TALE. 105 

3387. ' I presume this was a service that generally went unre- 
warded.' — Wright. It was like * piping in an ivy-leaf ; see A. 1838. 
3389. ape, dupe ; as in A. 706. 
3392. Gower has the like, ed. Pauli, i. 343 : — 

* An olde sawe is : who that is sligh, 
In place w[h]ere he may be nigh, 
He maketh the ferre leve loth 
Of love ; and thus ful ofte it goth.' 

Hending, among his Proverbs, has — ' Fer from eye, fer from herte,' 
answering to the mod. E. ' out of sight, out of mind.' Kemble cites : 
'Quod raro cernit oculi lux, cor cito spemit,' from MS. Trin. Coll., 
fol. 365. Also ' Qui procul est oculis, procul est a lumine cordis,' from 
Gartner, Diet. 8 b. 

3427. dtyde, should die ; subjunctive mood. 

3430. that . . ht)n is equivalent to ivhom. Cf. A. 2710. 

3445. kykedi stared, gazed; see 1. 3841. Cf. Scotch keek, to peep, 
pry ; Bums has it in his Twa Dogs, 1. 58. 

3449. The carpenter naturally invokes St. Frideswide, as there was 
a priory of St. Frideswide at Oxford, the church of which has become 
the present cathedral. The shrine of St. Frideswide is still to be seen, 
though in a fragmentary state, at the east end of the cathedral, on its 
former site near the original chancel-arches and wall of her early stone 
church. In this line, seint-e has the fem. suffix. 

3451. astf-omye is obviously intentional, as it fills up the line, and 
is repeated six lines below. The carpenter was not strong in tech- 
nical terms. In like manner, he talks of ' Nowelis flood'; see note 
to 1. 3818. The reading astronomy just spoils both lines, and loses 
the jest. 

3456. ' That knows nothing at all except his Creed.' 

3457. This story is told of Thales by Plato, in his Theaetetus ; it also 
occurs, says Tyrwhitt, in the Cento Novelle Antiche, no. 36. It has 
often been repeated, and may now be found in James's edition of .^sop, 
1852, Fable 170. 

S469. Nearly repeated from A. 545. 

3479. ' I defend thee with the sign of the cross from elves and living 
creatures.' At the same time, the carpenter would make the sign over 
him. Wightes does not mean 'witches,' as Tyrwhitt thought, but 
' creatures.' Cf. 1. 3484. 

S480. 7iight-spel , night-spell, a charm said at night to keep off evil 
spirits. The carpenter says it five times, viz. towards the four corners of 
the house and on the threshold. The charm is contained in lines 3483-6, 
and is partly intentional nonsense, as such charms often were. See 
several unintelligible examples in Cockayne's Leechdoms, iii. 286. The 
object of saying it four times towards the four corners of the house was 
to invoke the four evangelists, just as in the child's hymn still current, 
which is, in fact, a charm : — 


' Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, 
Bless the bed that I He on ; 
* Four angels round my bed,' &c. 

Lines 3483-4 are clear, viz. ' May Jesus Christ and St. Benedict bless 
this house from every wicked creature.' As this is a reproduction of 
a popular saying, it is not necessary that the lines should scan ; still, 
they run correctly, if we pronounce seynt as se-ynt, as elsewhere (note 
to A. 509), and if w-e take both to be defective at the beginning. The 
last two lines are mere scraps of older charms. It is just possible 
that /or nightes veryc ^ represents an A. "Et-for nihte werigum, 'against 
the evil spirits of night ' ; against whom ' the white Paternoster ' is to 
be said. The reading white is perfectly correct. There really was 
a prayer so called. See Notes and Queries, i Ser. xi. 206, 313; 
whence we learn that the charm above quoted, beginning ' Matthew, 
Mark,' &;c., resembles one in the Paieftotre Blanche, to be found in 
the (apocryphal) Enchiridion Leonis Papae (Romae, mdclx), where 
occurs : — ' Petite Patenotre Blanche, que Dieu fit, que Dieu dit, que 
Dieu mit en Paradis. Au soir m'allant coucher, je trouvis trois anges k 
mon lit, couches, un aux pieds, deux au chevet '; &c. Here is a charm 
that mentions it, quoted in Notes and Queries, i Ser. viii. 613 : — 

' White Paternoster, Saint Peter's brother. 

What hast thou i' th' t'one hand ? White Booke leaves. 
What hast i' th' t'other hand ? Heven-Yate Keyes. 
Open Heaven-Yates, and steike [shut] Hell- Yates. 
And let every crysome-child creepe to its owne mother. 

White Paternoster ! Amen.' 

The mention of St. Peter's brother is reonarkable. It is a substitution for 
the older 'Saint Peter's sister' here mentioned. Again, St. Peter's 
sister is a substitution for St. Peter's daughter, who is a well-known 
saint, usually called St. Petronilla, or, in English, Saint Parnell, once 
a very common female name, and subsequently a surname. Her day 
is May 31, and she was said to cure the quartan ague ; see Brand, 
Pop. Antiq., ed. Ellis, i. 363. A curious passage in the Ancren Riwle, 
p. 47, gives directions for crossing oneself at night, and particularly 
mentions the use of four crosses on ' four halves,' or in the original, 
' vour creoices a uour halue ' ; with the remark ' Crux fugat omne 
malum,' &c. For ' Rural Charms,' see the chapter in Brand's Popu- 
lar Antiquities, vol. iii. ; and see the charm against rats in Political 
and Love Poems, ed. Furnivall, p. 23. I may add that, in Kemble's 
Solomon and Saturn, p. 136, is an A. S. poem, in which the Pater- 
noster \s pefscmijied, and destroys evil spirits. In Longfellow's Golden 
Legend, § II., Lucifer is made to say a Black Paternoster. 

3507. ' That, if you betray me, you shall go mad (as a punishment).' 

^ The black-letter editions have 7iia)-e ; and Tyrwhitt follows them. I take 
this to be a mere guess. 

L1.3483-635.J THE MILLERES TALE. 107 

3509. labbe, chatterbox, talkative person. In P. Plowm. C. xiii. 39, 
we find the phrase ' ne labbe it out,' i. e. do not chatter about it, do not 
utter it foolishly. In the Romans of Partenay,ed. Skeat, 3751, we find: 

* a labbyng tonge ' ; and Chaucer has elsewhere : ' a labbing shrewe,' 
E. 2428. Sewel's Du. Diet. (1754) gives : ^ labben, or labbekakken, to 
blab, chat ' ; also ' labbckak, a tattling gossip, a common blab ' ; and 

* labbery, chat, idle talk.' 

3512. him, i.e. Christ. The story of the Harrowing (or despoiling) 
of Hell by Christ is derived from the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, 
and is a favourite and common subject in our older authors. It 
describes the descent of Christ into hell, after His crucifixion, in 
order to release the souls of the patriarchs, whom He takes with Him to 
paradise. It is given at length in P. Plowman, Text C. Pass, xxi ; and 
was usually introduced into the mystery plays ; see the Coventry Mys- 
teries, the York Plays, &c. See also Cursor Mundi, 17,863 ; Ayenbite 
of Inwyt, p. 12 ; (Sec. 

3516. ' On Monday next, at the end of the first quarter of the night,' 
i.e. about 9 p.m. Cf. 11. 3554, 3645. 

3530. See Ecclesiasticus, xxxii. 24 [Eng. version, 19] ; this was not 
said by * Solomon,' but by Jesus, son of Sirach. It is quoted again 
in the Tale of Melibeus ; B. 2193. 

3539. ' The trouble endured by Noah and his company.' Noe is the 
form in the Latin Vulgate version. The allusion is to the intentionally 
comic scene introduced into the mystery plays, as, e. g. in the Chester 
Plays, the Towneley Plays, and the York Plays, in which Noah and 
his sons {felaivshipe) have much ado to induce Noah's wife to enter 
the ark ; and, in the course of the scene, she gives Noah a sound box 
on the ear. 

3548. kitnelin, a large shallow tub ; especially one used for brewing ; 
see Prompt. Par\'. p. 274 ; and Kimnell in Miss Jackson's Shropshire 

3554. firyme, i. e. about 9 a.m. See note to F. 72)- 

3565. This shows that the hall was open to the roof, with cross- 
beams, and that the stable was attached to it, between it and the 

3590. sinne, i. e. venial sin ; see I. 859, 904, 920. 

3598. Evidently a common proverb. 

3616. It is obvious that the first foot is defective. 

3624. His oivne hand., with his own hand. Tyrwhitt points out the 
same idiom in Gower, ed. Pauli, ii. 83 : — 

'The craft Minerve of wolle fond 
And made cloth her owne hond.^ 

And again, id. ii. 310: — 

' Thing which he said his owne vioiith.' 

3625. rongesy rungs, rounds, steps ; stalkes, upright pieces. To 


climb by the rungs and the stalks means to employ the hands as well 
as the feet. A rung was also called a stayre (stairj ; and stalke is the 
diminutive of stele, a handle, which was another name for the upright 
part of a ladder. In Allit. Poems, ed. Morris, C. 513, the author com- 
plains that some people cannot tell the difference between a stele and 
a stayre ; and, in fact, the Glossary does not point it out. In the 
Ancren Riwle, p. 354, we find mention of the two ladder- j/a/^j' that 
are upright to the heaven, between which stales the tinds (or rungs) 
are fastened. This makes the sense perfectly clear. 

3637. a furlong-ivay, a i&w minutes ; exactly, two minutes and 
a half, at the rate of three miles an hour. 

3638. * Now say a Paternoster, and keep silence.' Accordingly, the 
carpenter * says his devotion.' *C^;«/'is a word imposing silence, 
like ' mum ! ' So in the Ayenbite of Inwyt, p. 266, we find : ' Yef ye 
me wylleth y-here, habbeth amang you clom and reste' ; i.e. if you 
wish to hear me, keep among you silence and rest. 

3645. corfeiv-tyme, probably 8 P. M. The original time for ringing 
the curfew-bcll, as a signal for putting out fires and lights, was eight 
o'clock. The custom has been kept up in some places till the present 
day ; the hour for it is sometimes 8 P.M., and sometimes 9 P.M. In 
olden times, mention is usually made of the fonner of these hours ; 
see Brand, Pop. Antiq. ii. 220; Prompt. Parv. p. no. People in- 
variably went to bed very early ; see 1. 3633. 

3655. The service of lands followed that of nocturns ; the latter 
originally began at midnight, but usually somewhat later. The time 
indicated seems to have been just before daybreak. ' These nocturns 
should begin at such a time as to be ended just as morning's twilight 
broke, so that the next of her services, the lauds, or viattititiae laudes, 
might come on immediately after.'— Rock, Church of our Fathers, 
iii. 2. 6. From I. 3731, we learn, however, that the night was still 'as 
dark as pitch.' Perhaps the time was between two and three o'clock, 
as Wright suggests. 

8668. the grange, lit. granary ; but the term was applied to a farm- 
house and granary on an estate belonging to a feudal manor or (as 
here) to a religious house. As the estate often lay at some distance 
from the abbey, it might be necessary for the carpenter, who went 
to cut down trees, to stay at the grange for the night. Cf. note to P. PI. 
C. XX. 71 ; and Prompt. Parv. {s.\. grawnge). 

3675. at cockkes crowe ; cf. 1. 3687. The expression in 1. 3674 must 
refer to Monday : the ' cock-crow' refers to Tuesday morning, when it 
was still pitch-dark (1. 3731). The time denoted by the 'first cock- 
crow' is very vague; see the Chapter on Cock-crowing in Brand's 
Pop. Antiquities. The ' second cock-crow ' seems to be about 3 a.m., 
as in Romeo and Juliet, iv. 4. 4 ; and the ' first cock-crow,' shortly 
after midnight, as in K. Lear, iii. 4. 121, i Hen. IV. ii. i. 20. An early 
mention of the first cock occurs in Ypomedon, 783, in Weber's Met. 
Romances, ii. 309 :— ' And at the fryst cokke roos he.' The clearest 

LI. 3637-709.] THE MILLERES TALE. 109 

statement is in Tusser's Husbandrie, sect. 74 (E. D. S. p. 165), where 
he says that cocks crow ' At midnight, at three, and an hower ere day,' 
which he afterwards explains by ' past five.' 

3682. On ' itching omens,' see Miss Bume's Shropshire Fo/k-Lore, 
p. 269. ' If your right hand itches, you will receive money ; ... if 
your nose itches, you will be kissed, cursed, or vexed.' 

3684. Cf. 'If [in a dream] you see many loaves, it portends joy'; 
A. S. Leechdoms, iii. 215. 

3689. at point-devys, with all exactness, precisely, very neatly ; cf. 
As You Like It, iii. 2. 401. O. F. devis, ' ordre, beautd ; a devis, par 
devis, en bel ordre, d'une manicre bien ordonn^e, k gre, h. souhait'; 
Godefroy. See F. 560 ; Rom. of the Rose, 121 5. 

3690. greyn, evidently some sweet or aromatic seed or spice ; 
apparently cardamoms, otherwise called grains of Paradise (New 
E. Diet.) '■ Greynys, spyce, Granuvi Paradisi' ; Prompt. Parv. ; 
see Way's note. Cf. Rom. of the Rose, 1369, and the note (vol. i. 
p. 428). 

3692. trewe-love, (probably) a leaf of herb-paris ; in the efficacy of 
which he had some superstitious belief. True-lo7>e is sometimes used 
as an abbreviation of true-love knot, as in the last stanza of the 
Court of Love ; and such is the case here. True-love knots were of 
various shapes ; see pictures of four such in Ogilvie's Dictionary. 
Some had four loops, which gave rise to the name true-love as applied 
to herb-paris. Gerarde's Herball, 1597, p. 328, thus describes herb- 
paris {Paris quadrifolia) : — At the top of the stalk ' come foorth fower 
leaves directly set one against another, in manner of a Burgonnion 
crosse or a true love knot ; for which cause among the auncients it 
hath beene called herbe Trueloi'e.' It is still called True Love's 
Knot in Cumberland. 

3700. Note the rime oi to me with dnam-6-7ne. 

3708. lakke, Jack, here an epithet of a fool, like lankin (B. 1172) ; 
and see note to B. 4CKX). Cf. E. zariy. 

3709. ' It wilt not be (a case of) come-kiss-me.' Chaucer has ba, 
to kiss, D. 433; and cowe-ba-me, i.e. come kiss me, is here used as 
a phrase; so that the line simply means 'you certainly will not get 
a kiss ! ' Observe the rime with bla-vie. Bas also meant to kiss, and 
Skelton uses the words together (ed. Dyce, i. 22) : — 

'With ba, ba, ba, and bas, bas, bas, 
She cheryshed hym, both cheke and chyn ' ; 

i.e. with repeated kisses on cheek and chin. So again (i. 127) we find : 
* bas Die, buttyng, praty Cys ! ' And so again (ii. 6) : ' bas 7iie, swete 
Parrot, bas me, swete, swete ! ' Further illustration is afforded by 
Burton's Anat. of Melancholy, pt. 3. sec. 2. mem. 4. subsec. i : ' Yea, 
many times, this love will make old men and women . . . dance, covie- 
kiss-7?ie-7io%i>, mask, and mum.' This complete explanation of an old 
crux was first given by Mr. Ellis, in 1870, in his Early Eng. Pro- 


nunciation, p. 715, who notes that the reading com ba me is fairly well 
supported; see his Critical Note. Several MSS. turn it into com- 
f)ame, which is clearly due to the influence of the familiar word 
compatiye, which repeatedly ends a line in Chaucer. Mr. Ellis well 
remarks — ' Co7n lame! was probably the name of a song, like . . . the 
modern " Kiss me quick, and go, my love." It is also probable that 
Absolon's speech contained allusions to it, and that it was very well 
known at the time.' 

The curious part of the story is that, in 1889, I adopted the same 
reading independently, and for precisely similar reasons. But Mr. Ellis 
was before me, by nineteen years. See 1. 3716 below. 

The following MSS. (says Mr. Ellis) read combame\ viz. Harl. 7335 
— Camb. Univ. Library, li. 3. 26 — Trin. Coll. Camb. R. 3. 3^Rawl. 
MS. Poet. 141. V>oA\.^\i,\\'&s,ciimbame\ whilst Rawl. Misc. 1 133 and 
Laud 739 have come ba vie. 

3713. Lit. *in the way to twenty devils'; hence, in the name of 
twenty devils. * In the twenty deuyll way. An nom du grant diable ' ; 
Palsgrave (1852), p. 838. See 11. 3134, 4257. 

3721-2. These two lines are in E. only ; Tyrwhitt omits them. But 
the old black-letter editions retain them. 

3728. He knelt down, because the window was so low (3696). 

3725. Cf. ' For who-so kissing may attayne ' ; Rom. Rose, 3677 ; 
and Ovid, Ars Amatoria, i. 669. 

3726. t/iyn ore, thy favour, thy grace; the words 'grant me' being 
understood. It is not uncommon. 

' Syr Lybeaus durstede [thirsted] sore. 
And seyde, Maugys, ///>'« ore, 
To drynke lette me go.' 

Ritson, Met. Romances, ii. 57. 
' I haue siked moni syk, lemmon, /or thin ore ' ; 

Boddeker's Altengl. Dichtungen, p. 174. 

See Specimens of E. Eng., Part I ; Glossary to Havelok; &c. 

3728. com of, i. e. be quick ; like Have do, have done ! We now say 
' come on ! ' But strictly, cotne on means ' begin,' and come off means 
* make an end.' 

3751. ' If it be not so that, rather than possess all this town, I would 
like to be avenged.' 

3770. viritoot must be accepted as the reading ; the reading verytrot 
in MS. HI. gives a false rime, as the 00 in woot is long. The meaning 
is unknown ; but the context requires the sense of ' upon the move,' or 
' astir.' My guess is that viri- is from F. vire7; to turn (cf. E .virelay), 
and that toot represents O. F. tot (L. totum, F. tout), all ; so that viri- 
toot may mean * turn-all.' Cotgrave gives virevoidte, ' a veere, whirle 
a round gamball, friske, or tume,' like the Portuguese viravolta. The 
form verytrot (very trot) is clearly due to an attempt to make sense. M S. 
Cam. has merytot, possibly with reference to M. E. merytoter, a swing 

LI. 37I3-8I8.] THE MILLERES TALE. iii 

(Catholicon) ; which is derived from mery, merrj', and ioterefi, to totter, 
oscillate. In the North of England, a swing is still called a vierry-irotter 
(corruption of merry-totter)^ as noted by Halliwell, who remarks that 
' the vte7'itot is mentioned by Chaucer,' which is not the fact. Both 
these 'glosses' give the notion of movement, as this is obviously the 
general sense implied. Whatever the reading may be, we can see the 
sense, viz. * some gay girl (euphemism for light woman) has brought you 
thus so early astir '; and Gervase accordingly goes on to say, ' you know 
what I mean.' 

Ed. 1561 has berytote, a misprint for verytote. 

3771. Here as elsewhere, i'r-//?/ is dissyllabic ; several MSS. have 
sehtte, but this can hardly be right. Y or N'ote, MSS. Pt. HI. have Noet, 
meaning St. Neot, whose day is Oct. 28, and whose name remains in 
St. Neot's, in Cornwall, and St. Neot's, in Huntingdonshire. He died 
about 877 ; see Wright's Biogr. Brit. Litt., A. S. Period, p. 381. The 
spelling N^ote is remarkable, as the mod. E. name (pronounced as AVt'/, 
riming w'xih. feet) suggests the A.S. form Neot, and M. E. Neei. 

3774. A proverbial phrase. Tyrwhitt quotes from Froissart, v. iv. 
p. 92, ed. 1574 ; ' 11 aura en bref temps autres estoupes en sa quen- 
oille.' To ' have tow on one's distaff' is to have a task in hand. ' Towe 
on my dystaf have I for to spynne'; Hoccleve, De Regimine Princi- 
pum, p. 45. 

3777. As lene, pray lend ; see note to E. 7. 

3782. MS. HI. has/?, w^hich is silently altered to /<7/^ by Bell and 
Wright. Tyrwhitt also has fote, which he found in the black-letter 
editions. The reading foo is probably quite right, and is an inten- 
tional substitution ior/oot. It is notorious that oaths were constantly 
made unmeaning, to avoid a too open profanity. In Chaucer, we have 
cokkes bones, H. 9, I. 29, and Corpus bones, C. 314. Another corrup- 
tion of a like oath is ^s foot, Shak. Troil. ii. 3. 6, which is docked at the 
other end. It is poor work altering MSS. so as to destroy evidence. 
Cristesfoo might mean ' the devil '; but this is unlikely. 

3785. stele, handle ; i. e. by the cold end, which served as a handle. 
See note to D. 949. stele, i. e. steel, would give a false rime. 

3811. Tyrwhitt inserted al before aboute in his text, but withdrew it 
in his notes. The A. S. has hand-brad, but the M.E. hand-e-brede 
had at least three syllables, if not four. This is shewn by M S. spellings 
and by the metre, and still more clearly by Wyclifs Bible, which has : 
*a spanne, that is, an handibreede^ Ezek. xl. $ (later version). It may 
have been formed by analogy with M. E. handiiverk (A. S. hand-geweorc) 
and handewrit (A. S. hand-gewrit). But the form is handbrede in 
Palladius on Husbandry, p. 80, 1. 536. 

3818. Noivelis flood is the mistake of the illiterate carpenter for 
Noes flood; see it again in 1. 3834, where he is laughed at for having 
used the expression in his previous talks with the clerk and his wife. 
It is on a par with his astromye (note to 1. 3451). He was less 
familiar with the Noe of the Bible than with the Nowel of the carol- 


singers at Christmas ; see F. 1255. The editors carefully 'correct' the 
poet. In ]. 3834, Nowclis helps the scansion, whilst Noes spoils the 
line, which has to be ' amended.' The readings are : E. Hn. as in the 
iext\ Cm. Pt. Ln. the Nowels flood ; Pt. the Noes flood ; HI. He was 
agast and feerd of Noes flood. Tyrwhitt actually reads ; He was 
agast-e so of Noes flood ; regardless of the fact that agast has no 
final -e. The carpenter's mistake is the more pardonable when we 
notice that No'e was sometimes used, instead of A^i^i'7,to mean 'Christ- 
mas.' For an example, see the Pontes de Champagne, Reims, 1851, 
p. 146. 

3821. This singular expression is from the French. Tyrwhitt 

cites. 'Ainc tant come il mist a descendre, 

Ne trouva point de pain a vendre,' 

i.e. he found no bread to sell in his descent. His reference is to the 
Fabliaux, t. ii. p. 282 ; Wright refers, for the same, to the fabliau of 
Aloul, in Barbazan, 1. 591. I suppose the sense is, 'he never stopped, 
as if to transact business.' 

3822. E. Hn. celle ; r<fj-/selle. The word ^^//^ might mean ' chamber.' 
There was an approach to the roof, which they had reached by help 
of a ladder ; and the three tubs were hung among the balks which 
fonned the roof of the principal sitting-room below. But it is difficult 
to see how the word celle could be applied to the chief room in the 
house. Tyrwhitt explains selle as 'door-sill or threshold'; but we 
must bear in mind that the visual M. E. form of sill was either sille 
or sulle, from A. S. sylL The spelling with s proves nothing, since 
Chaucer undoubtedly means 'cell' in A. 1376, where Cm. HI. have 
selle, and in B. 3162, where three MSS. (Cp. Pt. Ln.) all read j-^//t^ again. 
Why the carpenter should have arrived at the door-sill, I do not know. 

Nevertheless, upon further thoughts, I accept Tyrwhitt's view, with 
some modification. We find that Chaucer actually uses Kentish forms 
(with e for A. S.j) elsewhere, for the sake of a rime. A clear case is 
that oi/ul/elle, in Troil. iii. 5 10. This justifies the dat. form selle (A, S. 
sylle). But we must take selle to mean ' flooring ' or ' boarding,' and 
Jloor to mean the ground beneath it ; just as we find, in Widegren's 
Swedish Dictionary, that syll means ' the timber next the ground.' 
I would therefore read selle, with the sense of ' flooring'; and I explain 
Jloor by 'flat earth.' In the allit. Morte Arthure, -^z^c^jjlores signifies 
'plains.' In Gawayn and the Grene Knyght, 55, sille means ' floor.' 

3841. Observe the form cape, as a variant oi gape, both here and in 
1. 3444 (see footnotes) ; and in Troil. v. 1 133. 

The Reve's Prologue. 

3855. For laughen, Tyrwhitt has laughed, and in 1. 3858 has the 
extraordinary form lought, but he corrects the former of these in his 

U 3831-78.] THE REVE'S PROLOGUE. 113 

Notes. The verb was originally strong ; see examples in Stratmann, 
s. V. hlahhen. 
3857. Repeated, nearly, in F. 202 ; see note, 

3864. so theek, for so thee ik, so may I thrive, as I hope to thrive. 
The Reve came from Norfolk, and Chaucer makes him use the Northern 
ik for / in this expression, and again in 1. 3867 (in the phrase zk am), 
and in 1. 3888 (in the phrase ik have), but not elsewhere ; whence it 
would seem that ik for /was then dying out in Norfolk ; it has now 
died out even in the North. Both the Host and the Canon's Yeoman 
use the Southern form so theech ; see C. 947, G. 929. Cf. so the iky 
P. PL, B. V. 228. 

3865. To blear (lit. to dim) one's eye was to delude, hoodwink, or 
cheat a man. So also blered is ihynye, H. 252. 

3868. gras-tijne, the time when a horse feeds himself in the fields. 
My fodder is no70 forage, my food is now such as is provided for me ; 
I am like a horse in winter, whose food is hay in a stable, Thynne 
animadverts upon this passage (Animadversions, p. 39), and says that 

forage means ' such harde and olde prouisione as ys made for horses 
and cattle in winter,' He remarks, justly, \\\zX forage is but loosely 
used in Sir Thopas, B, 1973. 

3869. I take this to mean — * my old years write (mark upon me) 
this white head,' i, e. turn me grey. 

3870. ' My heart is as old (lit. mouldy) as my hairs are.' Mouled 
is the old pp, out of which we have made the mod. E. niould-y, adding 
•y by confusion with the adj. formed from mould, the ground. It is 
fully explained in the Addenda to my Etym. Diet. 2nd ed. p, 818 ; and 
the verb motilen, to grow mouldy, occurs in B, 32. 

3871. 'Unless I grow like a medlar, which gets worse all the 
while, till it be quite rotten, when laid up in a heap of rubbish or 

3876. hoppe?i, dance ; alluding to Luke vii. 32, where Wyclif has : 
* we han sungun to you with pipis, and ye han not daunsid.' 

3877. nayl, a hindrance ; like a nail that holds a box from being 
opened, or that catches a man's clothes, and holds him back. 

3878. 'E quegli che contro alia mia eta parlando vanno, mostramal 
che conoscano che, perchfe il porro abbia il capo bianco, che la coda 
sia verde'; and, as for those that go speaking about my age, it shews 
that they ill understand how, although the leek has a white head, its 
tail (or blade) is green ; Boccaccio, Decamerone ; introduction to the 
Fourth Day. So also in Northward Ho, by Dekker and Webster, 
Act iv. so. I : 'garlic has a white head and a green stalk'; where Dyce 
remarks that it occurs again in The Honest Lawyer, 1616, sig, G 2. 
Cf. P. Plowman, B, xiii. 352. 

3878-82. Compare Alanus de Insulis, Parabolae, cap. I (in Leyser's 
collection, p. 1067) : — 

* Extincti cineres, si ponas sulphura, uiuent ; 
Sic uetus apposita mente calescit amor.' 


3882. For olde, T. has cold, I cannot guess why : smouldering ashes 
are more Hkely to be hot. Old ashes mean ashes left after a fire has 
died down, in which, if raked together, fire can be long preserved. 
* Still, in our old ashes, is fire collected.' See the parallel passage in 
Troilus, ii. 538. 

In Soliman and Persida (Dodsley's Old Plays, ed. Hazlitt, v. 339J 

we find : — 

'as the fire 

That lay, with honour's hand raked up in ashes, 

Revives again to flames.' 

We are reminded of line 92 in Gray's Elegy : — ' Ev'n in our ashes live 
their wonted fires ' ; but Gray himself tells us that he was thinking, 
not of Chaucer, but of Sonnet 169 (170) of Petrarch : — 

' Ch' i veggio nel pensier, dolce mio fuoco, 
Fredda una lingua e due begli occhi chiusi, 
Rimaner doppo noi pien di faville' — 

i. e. which flove-songs) I see in thought, O my sweet flame, when fmy) 
one tongue is cold, and (your) two fine eyes are closed, remaining 
after us, full of sparkles. 

y-reke, raked or heaped together, collected. Not explained by 
Wright or Morris ; Tyrwhitt explains it by ' smoking,' and takes it to 
be a present participle, which is impossible. It is the pt. t. of the 
scarce strong verb reken, pt. t. rak, pp. y-reken, y-reke, of which the 
primary notion was to 'gather together.' It occurs, just once, in 
Gothic, in the translation of Romans, xii. 20: 'haurja funins rikts 
ana haubith is,' i. e. coals of fire shalt thou heap together on his 
head. It is the very verb from which the sb. rake is derived. See 
Rake in my Etym. Diet., and the G. Rechefi in Kluge. The notion 
is taken from the heaping together of smouldering ashes to preser\-e 
the fire within. Lydgate copies this image in his Siege of Troye, 
ed. 1555, fol. B4:— 

' But inward brent of hate and of enuy 
The hoote fyre, and yet there was no smeke [smoke], 
So couertly the malyce was yreke.' 

3895. diwibe. ' The prominency of the staves beyond the head of 
the barrel. The imagery is ^'ery exact and beautiful'; Tyrwhitt. 
''Chime (pronounced choim), sb. a stave of a cask, barrel, &c.' ; 
Leicestershire Glossary (E. D. S.) Urry gives ' Chimbe, the Rim of 
a Cooper's Vessel on the outside of the Head. The ends of the Staves 
from the Grooves outward are called the Chimes! Hexham's Du. 
Diet, has: *■ Kiinen, Kimmen, the Brimmes of a tubb or a barrill.' 
Sewel's Du. Diet, has : ^ Kim, the brim of a barrel.' The Bremen 
Kiimn signifies not only the rim of a barrel, but the edge of the 
horizon ; cf. Dan. Kiming, Ki7iimi?ig, the horizon. See further in 
New E. Diet. 

Li.3882-9n.] THE REVE'S PROLOGUE. 115 

3901-2. what amounteth, to what amounts. What shul, why 

3904. Tyrwhitt refers us to Ex sutore viedicus, Phxdrus, lib. i. 
fab. 14 ; and to ex sittore nauclenis, alluded to by Pynson the 
printer, at the end of his edition of Littleton's Tenures, 1525 (.\mes, 
p. 488). 
y 3906. Depcford (lit. deep ford), Deptford ; just beyond which is 
1/ Grencwich, Greenwich. Thus the pilgrims had not advanced very far, 
considering that the Knight and Miller had both told a tale. They . 
had made an early start, and it was now ' half-way prime.' ' Deptford,' 
says Dr. Fumivall, 'is 3 miles down the road [or a little more, it 
depends upon whence we reckon] ; and, as only the Reeve's Tale 
and the incomplete Cook's Tale follow in Group A, we must suppose 
that Chaucer meant to insert here [at the end of Group A] the 
Tales of some, at least, of the Five City-Mechanics and the Plough- 
man .... in order to bring his party to their first night's resting- 
place, Dartford, 15 miles from London '; Temp. Preface, p. 19. 'The 
deep ford,' I may remark, must have been the one through the Ravens- 
bourn. Deptford and Greenwich (where, probably, Chaucer was then 
residing) lay off the Old Kent Road, on the left ; hence the host 
points them out. 

half-way prime. That is, half-past seven o'clock ; taking prime to 
mean the first quarter of the day, or the period from 6 to 9 a.m. 
It was also used to denote the end of that period, or 9 a.m., as in 
B. 4387, where the meaning is certain. In my Preface to Chaucer's 
Astrolabe, (E. E. T. S.), I said: ' What ^m/?^ means in all cases, I do 
not pretend to say. It is a most difiicult word, and I think was 
used loosely. It might mean the beginning or end of a period, and the 
period might be an hour, or a quarter of a day. I think it was to 
obviate ambiguity that the end of the period was sometimes expressed 
by high prime, or passed prime, or prime large ; we also find such 
expressions as half prime, halfrvay pri)ne, or not filly prime, which 
indicate a somewhat long period. For further remarks, see Mr. Brae's 
Essay on Chaucer's Prime, in his edition of the Astrolabe, p. 90. I add 
some references for the word prime, which may be useful. We find 
prime in Kn. Ta. 1331 (A. 2189) ; Mill. Ta. 368 (A. 3554) ; March. Ta. 
613 (E. 1857) ; Pard. Ta. 200 (C. 662) ; Ship. Ta. 206 (B. 1396) ; Squi. 
Ta. 65 (F. 73) ; fully prime, Sir Topas, 114 (B. 2015) ; halfway prime, 
Reve's Prol. 52 (k. 3906) ; passed prime. Ship. Ta. 88 (B. 1278), Fre. Ta. 
178 (D. 1476J ; prime lai-ge, Squi. Ta. ii. 14 (F. 360). See a.\s,oprime in 
Troilus, ii. 992, v. 15 ; passed prime, ii. 1095 (in the same) ; an houre 
after the prime, ii. 1557.' Cf. notes to F. 73, &c. 

3911. somdel, in some degree, sette his howve, the same as set his 
cappe, i. e. make him look foolish ; see notes to A. 586, 3143. To come 
behind a man, and alter the look of his head-gear, was no doubt 
a common trick ; now that caps are moveable, the perennial joy of the 
street-boy is to run off with another boy's cap. 

I 2 


3912. * For it is allowable to repel (shove oflf) force by force.' The 
Ellesmere MS. has here the sidenote — 'vim vi repellere.' 

3919. sialke, (here) a bit of stick; "Lai. festtica. baike, a beam; 
Lat. trabs. See the Vulgate version of Matt. vii. 3. 

The Reves Tale. 

The origin of this Tale was a French Fabliau, like one that was 
first pointed out by Mr. T. Wright, and printed in his Anecdota 
Literaria, p. 15. Another similar one is printed in Meon's edition 
of Barbazan's Fabliaux, iii. 239 (Paris, 1808). Both were reprinted 
for the Chaucer Society, in Originals and Analogues, &c., p. Zy. See 
further in vol. iii. p. 397. 

3921. Tnevipington. The modern mill, beside the bridge over the 
Granta, between the villages of Trumpington and Grantchester, is 
familiar to all Cambridge men ; but this mill and bridge are both com- 
paratively modem, being placed upon an artificial channel. The old 
' bridge ' is that over the old river-bed, somewhat nearer Trumpington ; 
the * brook ' is this old course of the Granta, which is hereabouts very 
narrow and circuitous ; and the mill stood a quarter of a mile above 
the bridge, at the spot marked 'Old Mills' on the ordnance-map, 
though better known as 'Byron's pool,' which is the old mill-pool. 
The fen mentioned in 1. 4065 is probably the field between the Old 
Mills and the road, which must formerly have been fen-land ; though 
Lingay Fen may be meant, which covers the space between Bourne 
Brook (flowing into the Granta at the Old Mills) and the Cambridge 
and Bedford Railway. We like to think that Chaucer saw the spot 
himself; but he certainly seems to have thought that Trumpington was 
somewhat further from Cambridge than it really is, as he actually makes 
the clerks to have been benighted there ; and he might easily have 
learnt some local particulars from his wife's friend, Lady Blaunche de 
Trumpington, or from Sir Roger himself. In any case, it is interesting 
to find him thus boldly assigning a known locality to a mill which he 
had found in a French fabliau. 

3927. Pypen, play the bag-pipe ; see A. 565, The Reeve is clearly 
tr)'ing to make his description suit the Miller in the company, whom 
it is his express object to tease. Hence he says he could wrestle well 
(cf. A. 548J and could play the bag-pipe. 

7ieties bete, mend nets ; he knew how to net. 

3928. iu}'7w coppes, turn cups, make wooden cups in a turning- 
lathe; not a very difficult operation. It is curious that Tyrwhitt gave 
up trj'ing to explain this simple phrase. In Riley's ]Memorials of Lon- 
don, p. 666, we find that, in 1418, when the English were besieging 
Rouen, it was enacted that ' the turners should have 4^-. for ever>' 
hundred of 2,500 cups, in all looi-.': so that a wooden cup could be 
turned at the cost of a halfpenny. 

LI. 3912-36.] THE REVES TALE. 117 

3929. Printed pavcule by Tyrwhitt, pauade by Thynne (ed. 1532), 
\>\x\. panade m Wright. Levins' ]Manipulus \'ocabulorun-i (1570) has: 
* A VhMWiY., pitgio''\ but this is probably copied from Thynne. The 
exact form is not found in O. F., but Godefroy's O. F. Diet, gives : 
^ Pefiaf't, peiitiarty penard, panart, pannartf coutelas, espece de grand 
couteau k deux tranchants ou taillants, sorte de poignard ' ; with 
seven examples, one of which shows that it could be hung at the 
belt : * Un grant pennart qu'il avoit pendu a sa sainture.' Ducange 
gives the Low Lat. ioxm. penardus, and wrongly connects it with Y. 
poignard, from which it is clearly distinct ; but he also gives the 
iorm.pcnttaiu/11 with the sense of pruning-knife,' and Torriano gives 
an Ital. pennato with the same sense. Cf. Lat. bi-pennis. It was 
a two-edged cutlass, worn in addition to his sword ; and see below. 
It is also printed pauade in Lydgate's Siege of Troy, ed. 1555, 
fol. N 5, back. 

393L popper, thruster, i.e. dagger; from the \trh pop, to thrust in ; 
cf. poke. loly probably means ' neat ' or ' small.' This was the 
Miller's third weapon of offence, of which he had three sizes, viz. 
a sword, a cutlass, and a little dagger like a misericorde, used for 
piercing between the joints of armour. No wonder that no one durst 
touch him 'for peril.' Tho. poppere answers to the boydekin of 1. 3960, 
q. V. And besides these, he carried a knife. ' Toppe, to stryke ' ; 
Cathol. Angl. p. 286. 

3933. thwitel, knife ; from A. S. thwUati, to cut ; now ill-spelt 
"whittle. The portraits of Chaucer show a knife hanging from his 
breast ; accordingly, in Greene's Description of Chaucer, we find this 
line : 'A whittle by his belt he bare'; see Greene's Works, ed. Dyce, 
1883, p. 320. Note that Sheffield was already celebrated for its cutlerj' ; 
so in the Witch of Edmonton, Act ii. sc. 2, Somerton speaks of ' the 
new pair of Sheffield knives.^ 

3934. camtise (HI. camois), low and concave ; cf. 1. 3974 below. 
F. camiis, 'flat-nosed'; Cotgrave. Ital. camtiso, 'one with a flat 
nose'; Florio. See Camois in the New E. Diet., where it is thus 
explained : ' Of the nose : low and concave. Of persons : pug-nosed.' 
To the examples there given, add the following from Holland's tr. 
of Pliny, i. 229 ; ' As for the male goats, they are held for the best 
which are most camoise or snout-nosed.' Hexham's Du. Diet., s. v. 
Neiise, has the curious entry : ' een Camuys ende opiuaeris gaende 
Neuse [lit. a camus and upwards-going Nose], Camell-nosed.' 

3936. market-beter, a frequenter of markets, who swaggered about, 
and was apt to be quarrelsome and in the way of others. See Wyelif s 
Works, ed. Matthew, pp. 511, 520; and cf. F. battre le pave, ' aller et 
venir sans but, sans occupation'; Littre. And cf. E. 'policeman's 
beat* Cotgrave has : ' Bateur de pavez, a pavement-beater ; . . one 
that walks much abroad, and riots it wheresoever he walks.' The 
following passage from the Complaint of the Ploughman (in Wright's 
Polit. Poems, i. 330) makes it clear — 


* At the wrastling, and at the wake, 

And chief chantours at the nale [a/e] ; 
Market-beaters, and medling make, 

Hoppen and houten \]iooi\, with heve and hale.' 

A synonymous term was market-dasher, spelt market-daschare in the 
Prompt. Parv. ; see Way's note. 

aftefulle, completely, entirely. 

3941. Stinkin, diminutive of Siviond, which was his real name 
(11. 4022, 4127). Altered to Sim-e-kin by Tyrwhitt, for the scansion ; 
but cf. 11. 3945, 3947, 4034, &c. He makes the same alteration in 
1. 3959, for a like reason, but we may scan it : ' But if | he wold | e 
be I slayn,' &c. All the MSS. have Symkyii, except HI., which has 
Symckyn here and in 1. 3959. We must either make the fomi 
variable, or else treat the word de-y-notis as a trisyllable. Deynous 
was his regular epithet. 

3943. This statement, that the parson of the town was her father, 
has caused surprise. In Bell's Chaucer, the theory is started that the 
priest had been a widower before he took orders, which no one can be 
expected to believe ; it is too subtle. It is clear that she was an 
illegitimate daughter ; this is why her father paid money to get her 
married to a miller, and why she thought ladies ought to spare her 
(and not avoid her), because it was an honour to have a priest for 
a father, and because she had learnt so much good-breeding in 
a nunnery. The case is only too clear ; cf. note to 1. 3963. 

8953. iipet, not here a cape, but the long pendant from the hood 
at one time fashionable, which Simkin wound round his head, in 
order to get it out of the way. See Tippett in Fairholt's Costume in 
England ; Glossary. Cf. notes to A. 233, 682. 

3954. So also the Wife of Bath had 'gay scarlet gytes''; D. 559. 
Spelt gide in MS. Ln., and gyde in Blind Harry's Wallace, i. 214: 
* In-till a gyde of gudly ganand greyne,' where it is used of a gay 
dress worn by Wallace. It occurs also twice in Golagros and 
Gawain, used of the gay dress of a woman ; see Jamieson. Nares 
shews that gite is used once by Fairfax, and thrice by Gascoigne. 
The sense is usually dubious ; it may mean ' robe,' or, in some places, 
' head-dress.' The g was certainly hard, and the word is of F. origin. 
Godefroy gives ^ guite, chapeau'; and Roquefort has 'wite, voile.' 
The F. Gloss, appended to Ducange gives the word ivitart as applied 
to a man, and ivitarde as applied to a woman. Cf. O. F. luiart, which 
Roquefort explains as a woman's veil, whilst Godefroy explains guiart 
as a dress or vestment. The form of the word suggests a Teutonic 
origin ; perhaps from O. H. G. wit, wide, ample, which would explain 
its use to denote a veil or a robe indifferently. Ducange suggests 
a derivation from Lat. uiita, which is also possible. 

3956. daine, lady ; see A. 376. 

3959, wold-e, wished, seems to be dissyllabic ; see note to 1. 3941. 

LL 3941-90.] THE REVES TALE. 119 

3960. boydckin, dagger, as in B. 3S92, q. v. Cf. note to 1. 3931. 

3962. ' At any rate, they would that their wives should think so.' 
Wenden, pt. pi. subj. of weneji. 

3963. smoterlich^ besmutched ; cf. bismotered in A. 76. Tyrwhitt 
says : ' it means, I suppose, smutty, dirty ; but the whole passage is 
obscure.' Rather, it is perfectly clear when the allusion is perceived. 
The allusion is to the smutch upon her reputation, on account of her 
illegitimacy. This explains also the use oi somdel', ' because she was, 
in some measure, of indifferent reputation, she was always on her 
dignity, and ready to take offence'; which is true to human nature. 
Thus the whole context is illuminated at once. 

3964. dtgne, full of dignity, and therefore (as Chaucer says, with 
exquisite satire) like (foul) water in a ditch, which keeps every one at 
a proper distance. However, the satire is not Chaucer's own, but due 
to a popular proverbial jest, which occurs again in The Ploughman's 
Crede, 1. 375, where the Dominican friars are thus described : — 

*Ther is more pryve pride in Prechours hertes 
Than ther lefte [remained] in Lucyfer, er he were lowe fallen ; 
They ben digne as dich-waier, that dogges in baytcth ' {feed in\. 

And, again, in the same, 1. 355 :— 

'For with the princes of pride the Prechours dwellen. 
They bene as digne as the devel, that droppeth fro hevene.' 

Hence digne is proud, repulsive. 

3965. 'And full of scorn and reproachful taunting'; like the lady in 
Lay de Freine, 1. 60 (in Weber's Met. Romances, i. 359) : — 

'A proud dame and an enuious, 
Hokerfulliche missegging, 
Squeymous and eke scorning ; 
To ich woman sche hadde envie.' 

Hoker is the A. S. hocor, scorn. Bismare is properly of two syllables 
only (A. S. bistnor), but is here made into three ; MS. Cp. has bise- 
mare, and HI. has bisseviare, and the spelling bisemare also appears 
much earlier, in the Ancren Riwle, p. 132, and bisemcere in Layamon, 
i. 140. Owing to a change in the accentuation, the etymology had 
been long forgotten. See Bismer in the New E. Diet., and see the 

3966. ' It seemed to her that ladies ought to treat her with considera- 
tion,' and not look down upon her ; see note to 1. 3943. 

3977. The person, the parson, i.e. her grandfather. 
3980. ' And raised difficulties about her marriage.' 
3990. The Soler-halle has been guessed to be Clare Hall, merely 
because that college was of early foundation, and was called a ' hall.' 
But a happy find by Mr. Riley tells us better, and sets the question at 
rest. In the First Report of the Historical MSS. Commission, p. 84, 
Mr. Riley gives several extracts from the Bursar's Books of King's 


Hall, in which the word solarium repeatedly occurs, shewing that this 
Hall possessed numerous solaria, or sun-chambers, used as dwelling- 
rooms, apparently by the fellows. They were probably fitted with 
bay-windows. This leaves little doubt that Soler-Hall was another 
name for King's Hall, founded in 1337 by Edward III, and now 
merged in Trinity College. It stood on the ground now occupied by 
the Great Gate, the Chapel, Bowling-green, and Master's Lodge of 
that celebrated college. On the testimony of Chaucer, we learn that 
the King's Hall, even in his time, was ' a greet collegge.' Its successor 
is the largest in England. 

In Wright's Hist, of Domestic Manners, pp. 83, 127, 128, it is 
explained that the early stone-built house usually had a hall on the 
ground-floor, and a soler above. The latter, being more protected, 
was better lighted, and was considered a place of greater security. 
' In the thirteenth century a proverbial characteristic of an avaricious 
and inhospitable person, was to shut his hall-door and live in the soler ^ 
It was also 'considered as the room of honour for rich lodgers or 
guests who paid well.' Udall speaks of * the solares, or loftes of my 
hous '; tr. of Erasmus' Apophthegmes, Aug. Casar, § 27. 

3999. made fare, made a to-do (as we now say). 

4014. Slrolher, There is now no town of this name in England, 
but the reference is probably to a place which gave its name to 
a Northumbrian family. Mr. Gollancz tells me : — ' The Strother family, 
of Northumberland, famous in the fourteenth century, was a branch of 
the Strothers, of Castle Strother in Glendale, to the west of Woolen 
The chief member of this Northumberland branch seems to have been 
Alan de Strother iht younger, who died in 1381. (See Calendarium 
Inquis. post Mortem, 4 Ric. II, vol. iii. p. 32.) The records contain 
numerous references to him ; e. g. " Aleyn de Struther, conestable de 
nostre chastel de Rokesburgh," A. D. 1366 (Rymer's Fccdera, iii. 784); 
"Alanum del Strother, vicecomitem de Rokesburgh et vicecomitem 
Northumbrian" (id. iii. 919). It is a noteworthy point that this Alan 
de Strother had a son Johnl This definite information does away 
with the old guess, that Strother is a mistake for Langstrothdale 
Chase almost at the N.W. extremity of the W. Riding of Yorkshire, 
joining the far end of Wharfdale to Ribblesdale, and even now 
not very accessible, though it can be reached from Ribblehead 
station, on the Skipton and Carlisle Railway, or from Horton-in- 

I suppose that Castle Strother, mentioned above, must have been 
near Kirknewton, some 5 miles or so to the west of Wooler. The 
river Glen falls into the Till, which is a tributary' of the Tweed. I find 
mention, in 1358-9, of ' Henry de Strother, of Kirknewton in Glen- 
dale'; Brand, Hist, of Newcastle, ii. 414, note. W. Hutchinson, in 
his View of Northumberland, 1778, i. 260, speaks of 'Kirknewton, one 
of the manors of the Barony of Wark, the ancient residence of the 
Strothers, now the property of John Strother Ker, Esq.' 

LI. 3999-40I4-] THE REVES TALE. 121 

We may here notice some of the characteristics of the speech 
which Chaucer assigns to these two students from Northumberland. 

(a) They use a for A. S. a, where Chaucer usually has o (long and 
open). Ex. na (Ch. no), swa (so), ham [hoom), gas {goo\h), fra {fro), 
banes {bones), anes {ones), waat {ivoot), raa {ro), bathe {bothe),ga {go), 
tiva {two), ivha {tuho). Similarly we find saule for Ch. soiile, soul, iald 
for told, halde for holde, awcn for oiocn, own. 

{b) They use a for A. S. short a before ng. Ex. wanges, but Ch. 
also has wang-iooth, B. 3234 ; sang for song (4170), lange for longe, 
wrang for lurong. 

{c) They use (perhaps) ee for 00 ; as in geen for goon, gone, 407S ; 
neen for noon, none, 4185. This is remarkable, and, in fact, the 
readings vary, as noted. Gecji, neen are in I^IS. E. Note also pit 
for put, 4088. 

{d) They use the indicative sing, and pi. in -es or -s. Ex. 3 pers. 
iin^./ar-es, bo-es,ga-s, wagg-es, fall-es,/ynd-es, 4130, bring-es, tyd-es, 
4175, say-s, 4180. Pi. iverk-es, 4030. So also is I, Its, thou is, 40S9. 
In 1. 4045, we find arc ye, E. ; ar ye {better), Hn. ; ere ye, Cp. HI. ; is 
ye, Cm. Pt. ; es ye, Ln. Both ar [er) and is {cs) are found in the 
present tense plural in Northern works; loe is occurs in Barbour's 
Bruce, iii. 317. It is not ' ungrammatical,' as Tyrwhitt supposes. 

(e) Other grammatical peculiarities are : sat for shat, shall, 4087 ; 
s/yk for swiche, such, 4173; ivhilk for whichc, 41 71 ; thair for liir, 
their, 4 1 72 (which is now the standard use) ; hethen for henries, hence, 
4033 ; til for to (but Chaucer sometimes uses /// himself, chiefly 
before a vowel) ; y-mel for amongcs, 4171 ; gi/iov //| 4181. 

if) Besides the use of the peculiar forms mentioned in {e), we find 
certain words employed which do not occur elsewhere in Chaucer, 
viz. boes (see note to 4027), lathe, barn, fonne, fool, hething, con- 
tempt, taa, take. To these Tyrwhitt adds gar, reading Gar us have 
mete in 1. 4132, but I can only find Get us soin mete in my seven MSS. 
Caput, horse, occurs again in D. 1554, 2150. 

I think Mr. Ellis a little underrates the 'marked northernism' of 
Chaucei-'s specimens. Certainly thou is is as marked as / is ; and 
other certain marks are the pi. indie, in -es, as in iverk-es, 4030, the 
use of sal for ' shall,' of boes for * behoves,' of taa for ' take,' of hethen 
for 'hence,' of slyk for 'such,' the prepositions fra and y-fnel, and 
even some of the peculiarities of pronunciation, as a for 0, wrang for 

It is worth enquiring whether Chaucer has made any mistakes, and 
it is clear that he has made several. Thus as clerkes sayn (4028) 
should be as clerkes says ; and sayth should again be says in 1. 4210. 
In 1. 4171, hem (them) should be thaim. In 1. 4180, y-greved ^o\x\A 
be greved; the Northern dialect knows nothing of the prefix y-. It 
also ignores the final -e in definite adjectives ; hence thy fair-e (4023), 
this short-e (4265), and this la7ig-e (4175) all have a superfluous -e. 
Of course this is what we should expect ; the poet merely gives 


a Northern colouring to his diction to amuse us ; he is not trying to 
teach us Northern grammar. The general effect is excellent, and 
that is all he was concerned with. 

4020. The mill lay a little way off the road on the left (coming from 
Trumpington) ; so it was necessary to ' know the way.' 

4026. nede has na peer, necessity has no equal, or, is above all. 
More commonly, Nede ne hath no lawc, as in P. Plowman, B. xx. lo, 
or C. xxiii. lo ; * Necessitas non habet legem'; a common proverb. 

4027. does, contracted from behoves, a form peculiar to Chaucer. 
In northern poems, the word is invariably a monosyllable, spelt bos, or 
more commonly bus ; and the pt. t. is likewise a monosyllable, viz. bud 
or bood, short for behoved. In Cursor Mundi, 1. 9870, we have : * Of 
a woman bos him be born; and in 1. 10639: 'Than bus this may be 
clene and bright.' In M. E., it is always used impersonally; him 
hoes or him bos means ' it behoves him,' or ' he must.' See Bus in the 
New E. Dictionary. 

Chaucer here evidently alludes to some such proverb as ' He who 
has no servant must serve himself,' but I do not know the precise 
form of it. The expression ' as clerkes sayn ' hints that it is a Latin 

4029. hope, expect, fear. Cf. P. Plowman, C. x. 275, and see Hope 
in Nares, who cites the story of the tanner of Tamworth (from Putten- 
ham's Arte of Poesie, bk. iii. c. 22) who said — ' I hope I shall be hanged 
to-morrow.' Cf. also Thomas of Erceldoun, ed. Murray, 1. 78 : — 

'But-if I speke with yone lady bryghte, 
I hope myne herte will bryste in three ! ' 

4030. 'So ache his molar teeth.' Wark, to ache, is common in 
Yorkshire : * My back ivarks while I can hardly bide,' my backaches 
so that I can hardly endure ; Mid. Yks. Gloss. (E. D. S.). 

4032. ham, i.e. ham, haam, home. 

4033. heiheti, hence, is very characteristic of a Northern dialect ; 
it occurs in Hampole, Havelok, IMorris's AUit. Poems, Gawain, Robert 
of Brunne, the Ormulum, &c. ; see examples in Matzner. 

4037. One clerk wants to watch above, and the other below, to 
prevent cheating. This incident is not in the French fabliaux. On 
the other hand, it occurs in the Jest of the Mylner of Abyngton, which 
is plainly copied from Chaucer. 

4049. blcre hir ye, blear their eyes, cheat them, as in 1. 3865. 

4055. 'The fable of the ^Volf and the Mare is found in the Latin 
Esopean collections, and in the early French poem of Renard le 
Contrefait, from whence it appears to have been taken into the English 
Reynard the Fox'; Wright. Tyrwhitt observes that the same story is 
told of a mule in Cento Novelle Anliche, no. 91. See Caxton's Reynard, 
ch. 27, ed. Arber, p. 62, where the wolf wants to buy a mare's foal, 
who said that the price of the foal was written on her hinder foot ; ' yf ye 
conne rede and be a clerk, ye may come see and rede it.' And when 

LI. 4020-78.] THE REVES TALE. 123 

the wolf said, ' late me rede it,' the mare gave him so violent a kick 
that ' a man shold wel haue ryden a myle er he aroos.' The Fox, who 
had brought it all about, hypocritically condoles with the Wolf, and 
observes — 'Now I here wel it is true that I long syth haue redde and 
herde, that the teste clerkes ben 7iot the wysest men J 

For the story in Le Roman du Renard Contrefait, see Poetes de 
Champagne, Reims, 1851, p. 156. For further information, see 
Caxton's Fables of /Esop, ed. Jacobs, lib. v. fab. 10; vol. i. 254, 255 ; 
vol. ii. 157, 179. La Fontaine has a similar fable of the Fox, the Wolf, 
and the Horse. In Croxall's ^Esop, it is told of the Horse, who tells 
the Lion, who is acting as physician, that he has a thorn in his foot. 
See further references in the Exempla of Jacques de Vitry, ed. Crane, 
pp. 147, 197. 

406 L levesel, an arbour or shelter formed of branches or foliage. 
Lev-e is the stem of lee/^ A. S. leaf, a leaf; and -sel is the same as the 
A. S. s(fI^ sele, a hall, dwelling, Swed. sal, Icel. salr^ G. Saal. The 
A. S. seel occurs also in composition, as biirg-s(cl,folc-sa:l, horn-scel, and 
sele is still commoner; Grein gives twenty-three compounds with the 
latter, as gccst-sele, guest-hall, hrof-sele, roofed-hall, &c. In Icel. we 
have lauf-hiis, leaf-house, but we find the very word we require in Swed. 
Id/sal, 'a hut built of green boughs,' Widegren ; Dan. lovsals-fest, 
feast of tabernacles. The word occurs again in the Persones Tale, 
1. 411, where it means a leafy arbour such as may still be seen to form 
the porch of a public-house. The word is scarce ; but see the 
following :— 

'Alle but Syr Gauan, graythest of alle. 

Was left %\ith Dame Grajnour, vndur the greues [groves] grene. 
By a laurj'el ho [she] lay, vndur a lefe-salc 
Of box and of barbere, byggyt ful bene.' 
Anturs of Arthur, st. 6 ; in Three Met. Romances, ed. Robson, p. 3. 

The editor prints it as lefe sale, and explains it by ' leafy hall,' but 
it is a compound word; the adjective would be lefy or lei(y. In this 
case the arbour was 'built ' of box and barberrj'. 

'Ail his devocioun and holynesse 
At the taveme is, as for the most dele, 
To Bacus syne, and to the leef-sele 
His youthe hym haleth,' &c. 

Hoccleve, De Regim. Principum, p. 22. 

Again, in Allit. Poems, ed. Morris, iii. 448, the arbour formed by 
Jonah's gourd is called a lefsel. 

4066. Lydgate has 'through thinne and thikke'; Siege of Troy, 
fol. Cc. 6, back. 

4078. geejt, goon ; so in MS.E., which again has neen, none, 4185. 
The usual Northern form is gan { = gaa/t), as in HI. ; Hn. Ln. have 
gane. But we also find gayn, as in Wallace, iv. 102 ; Bruce, ii. 80. 


The forms geen, neen, are so remarkable that they are likely to be the 
original ones. 

4086. *I am -very swift of foot, God knows, (even) as is a roe; by 
God's heart, he shall not escape us both ; why hadst thou not put the 
horse in the bam ? ' * Light as a rae ' [roe] ; Tournament of Tottenham, 
St. 15. 

4088. capul, a horse, occurs again, in D. 2150. hiihe, a barn, is 
still in use in some parts of Yorkshire, but chiefly in local designa- 
tions, being otherwise obsolescent ; see the Cleveland and Whitby 
Glossaries. ' The northern man writing to his neighbour may say, 
" My lathe standeth neer the kirkegarth" for My barne standeth 
neere the churchyard : ' Coote's Eng. Schoolemaster, 1632 (Nares). 
Ray gives; ^ Lathe, a barn' in 1691 ; and we again find ^ Leath, 
a barn' in 1781 (E. D. S. Gloss. B, i) ; and ^ Leath, Laith, a barn, in 
181 1 (E. D. S. Gloss. B. 7) ; in all cases as a Northern word. 

4096. 'Trim his beard,' i.e. cheat him; and so again in D. 361. 
See Chaucer's Hous of Fame, 689, and my note upon it. 

' Myght I thaym have spyde, 
I had Jfiade thaym a herd.' 

Towneley Mysteries, p. 144. 

410L lossa, ' down here '; a cry of direction. Composed of O. Y.jos, 
Jus, down ; and ^a, here. Bartsch gives an example of Jos in his 
Chrestomathie, 1875, col. 8 : ' tuit li felun cadegren Jos,' all the felons 
fell down ; and Cotgrave has : 'yus, downe, or to the ground.' Gode- 
froy gives : (a Jus, here below, down here. It is clearly a direction 
given by one clerk to the other, and was probably a common cry in 
driving horses. 

warderere, i.e. warde arere, 'look out behind!' Another similar 
cry. MS. Cm. has: ivare the rere, mind the rear, which is a sort of 
gloss upon it. 

4110. hething, contempt. See numerous examples in Matzner, s. v. 
hccthing, ii. 396. Cf. ' Bothe in hething and in scorn '; Sir Amadace, 
1. 17, in Robson's Three Met. Romances, p. 27. 'Him thoght scorn 
and gret hething^ ; Seven Sages, ed. \Veber, 1. 91. 

4112. The first foot is ' trochaic' 

4115. in his hond, in his possession, in his hold. 

4126. ' Or enlarge it by argument'; prove by logic that it is the size 
you wish it to be. 

4127. Cutberd, St. Cuthbert, bishop of Lindisfarne, died in 686. 
Being a Northumberland man, John swears by a Northumberland 

4130. Evidently a proverb : 'a man must take (one) of two things, 
either such as he finds or such as he brings'; i. e. must put up with 
what he can get. 

4134. Another proverb. Repeated in D. 415, with lure for tulle. 
From the Policraticus of John of Salisbury, liv. v. c. 10 : ' Veteri cele- 

LI. 4086-210.] THE REVES TALE. 125 

bratur proverbio : Quia vacuae manus temeraria petitio est.' MS. Cm. 
has the rimes folic, tollc. For tulle, a commoner spelHng is iille, to 
draw, hence to allure, entice. Hence E. //// (for money), orig-. mean- 
ing a ' drawer'; and the tiller of a rudder, by which it is drawn aside. 
See tnllen in Stratmann, and tollen in Boeth. bk. ii. pr. 7. 1 1 (in vol. ii. 

P- 45)- 
4140. chalons, blankets. The same word as mod. E. shalloon^ 

' a slight woollen stuff'; Ogilvie's Diet. ' The blanket was sometimes 

made of a texture originally imported from Chalons in France, but 

afterwards extensively manufactured in England by the Chaloners '; 

Our Eng. Home, p. 108. ' Owyltes ne c/talou?is'; Eng. Gilds, ed. 

Toulmih Smith, p. 350. 

4152. ^//rtZ'/v, asthma, or difficulty of breathing that causes a croak- 
ing noise. Halliwell gives : ' Quack, to be noisy, West. The term is 
applied to any croaking noise.' Also : ' Quackle, to choke, or suffocate, 
East' Pose, a cold in the head ; A. S. gepos. 

4155. ' To wet one's whistle'' is still in use for to drink deeply. 
'7 wete my luliystell, as good drinkers do'; Palsgrave, p. 780. 
In Walton's Complete Angler, Part i. ch. 5, we find : ' Let's drink the 
other cup to wet our whistles^ 

4172. wilde fyr, erysipelas (to torment them) ; see Halliwell. Cf. 
E. 2252. The entry — ^ Erysipela (sic), wilde fyr' occurs in yElfric's 
Vocabulary'. So in Le Rom. de la Rose : — ' que Mai-Feu I'arde'; 7438, 

4174. flour, choice, best of a thing ; // ending, evil death, bad end. 
* They shall have the best (i. e. here, the worst) of a bad end.' Rather 
a wish than a prophecy. 

4181. Sidenote in MS. HI. — *Oui in vno grauatur in alio debet 
releuari.' A Law Maxim. 

4194. vpright, upon her back. 'To slepe on the backe, v^ryght, 
is vtterly to be abhorred ' ; Babees Book, ed. Fumivall, p. 245. Pals- 
grave, s. v. Throwe, has : ' I throwe a man on his backe or upright, so 
that his face is upwarde, le re7iuerse^ And see Nares. Cf. ' Now 
dounward groffe [on your belly], and now upright'; Rom. Rose, 
2561. Bolt-upright occurs in 1. 4266; where bolt is 'like a bolt,' 
hence ' straight,' or exactly. See Bolt, adv., in the New E. Dictionary. 
And compare B. 1506. 

4208. daf, fool ; from E. daf-t. cokenay, a milk-sop, poor creature. 
The orig. sense of coken-ay is ' cocks' t.g%^ from a singular piece 
of folk-lore which credited cocks with laying such eggs as happen 
to be imperfect. ' The small yolkless eggs which hens sometimes lay 
are called " cocks' eggs," generally in the firm persuasion that the 
name states a fact ' ; Shropshire Folklore, by C. S. Burne, p. 229. 
The idea is old, and may be found gravely stated as a fact in Bar- 
tolomaeus De Proprietatibus Rerum (14th century). See Cockney 
in the New E. Dictionary. 

4210. Unhardy is unsely, the cowardly man has no luck. ' Audentes 


fortuna iuuat'; Vergil, Aen. x. 284. So also our 'Nothing venture, 
nothing have,' and ' Faint heart never won fair lady ' ; which see 
in Hazlitt's Proverbs. For seel, luck, see 1. 4239. See Troil. iv. 602, 
and the note. 

4220. Pronounce bcft'cite in three syllables ; as usual. 

42.3.3. TJte thridde cok ; apparently, between 5 and 6 A. M. ; see note 
to line 3675 above. It was near dawn ; see 1. 4249. 

4236. Malift, another form of Malkin, which is a pet-name for 
Matilda. See my note to P. Plowman, C. ii. 181, where my statement 
that Malkin occurs in the present passage refers to Tyrwhitt's edition, 
which substitutes Malkin for the Malin or Malyn of the MSS. 
and of ed. 1532. Cf. B. 30. 

' Malyn, tersorium,' Cath. Anglicum ; i. e. Malin, like Malkin, 
also meant a dishclout. Malitt has now become Molly. 

4244. cake. In Wright's Glossaries, ed. Wiilker, col. 788, 1. 36, we 
find, * Hie j)anis subveruciiis, a meleres cake ' ; on which Wright 
remarks : ' Perhaps this name alludes to the common report that the 
miller always stole the flour from his customers to make his cakes, 
which were baked on the sly.' 

4253. toty, in the seven MSS.; iotty in ed. 1532. It means 'dizzy, 
reeling'; and Halliwell, s. v. Toity, quotes from MS. Rawl. C. 86: 
* So toty was the brayn of his hede.' Cf. ' And some also so toty 
in theyr heade'; Lydgate, Siege of Troy, ed. 1555, fol. L i, back. 
Spenser has the word twice, as tottie or totty, and evidently copied it 
from this very passage, which he read in a black-letter edition ; see 
his Shep. Kal., February, 55, and F. O. vii. 7. 39. Cf. E. totter. 

42.57. a twenty devel way, with extremely ill-luck. See note to 


4264. Compare B. 141 7. 

4272. linage ; her grandfather was a priest ; see note to 1. 3943. 

4278. foke, bag ; cf. the proverb, ' To buy a pig in a poke.' 

'Than on the grounde together rounde 

With many a sadde stroke 
They roule and rumble, they turne and tumble, 
As pygges do in a poke^ 

Sir T. More, A Merrie lest, &c. (1510). 

This juvenile poem by Sir T. More is printed in Hazlitt's Popular 
Poetr)', iii. 128, and in the Preface to Todd's Johnson. 

4286. Broineholm. A piece of what was supposed to be the true 
cross was brought from the East by an English priest to Norfolk in 
1223, and immediately became famous as an object of pilgrimage. It 
is called the 'Rode [rood] of Bromeholme' in P. Plowman, B. v. 
231 ; see my note to that line. 

4287. The full form is quoted in the note to Scott's Marmion, 
can. ii. st. 13 : — ' In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum ; 
a vinculis enim mortis redemisti me, Domine veritatis, Amen.' In 

LI. 4220-321.] THE REYES TALE. 127 

Ratis Raving, &c., ed. Lumby, p. 8, 1. 263, the form ends with ' spiritum 
meum, domine, deus veritatis.' In Reliquiae Antiquae, i. 235, the 
following translation of the Latin form is given : — 

' Loverd Godd, in hondes thine I bequethe soule mine ; 
Thu me boctest with thi deadd, Loverd Godd of sothfastheedd.' 

It here occurs in company with the Creed, the Paternoster, and the 
Ave Maria ; so that it was one of the very common religious formulae 
which were familiar, even in the Latin form, to people of no education. 
They frequently knew the words of these forms, without knowing more 
than the general sense. In manus tiias, (Sic, was even recited by 
criminals before being hung ; see Skelton's Works, ed. Dyce, i. 5, 292, 
ii. 268. The words are mostly taken from the Vulgate version of Luke, 
xxiii. 46. 

4290. 0071, one, some one ; not common at this date. 

4295. Cf. Roman de la Rose, 12720:— 'Qui set bien de Tostel les 
estres,' i. e. v.ho knows well the inner parts of the hostel. See note to 
A. 197 1 above. 

4302. volupeer, nightcap ; see note to A. 3241. 

4307. harroiv, a cry for help ; see note to A. 3286. 

4320. Him thar, lit. ' it needs him,' i.e. he need, he must. For thar, 
ed. 1532 has dare, which Tyrwhitt rightly corrects to ihar, which occurs 
again in D. 329, 336, 1365, and H. 353. It is common enough in early 
authors ; the full form is tharf, as in Owl and Nightingale, 803 (or 180), 
Moral Ode (Jesus IMS.), 44; spelt tharrf, Ormulum, 12886; theif, 
Ancren Riwle, p. 192 ; darf, Florisand Blancheflur, 315 ; deff, O. Eng. 
Homilies, ed. INIorris, i. 187, 1. 31 ; dar, Octovian, 1337 ; &c. The pt. t. 
is thurfte, llmrte, thofte ; see iltarf and thurfcn in Stratmann, and 
cf. A. S. thearf, pt. t. ihiirfte. For wene, the correct reading, Tyrwhitt 
substitutes wimte, against all authority, because he could make no sense 
of %Lie?ie. It is odd that he should have missed the sense so completely. 
IVeneisto imagine, think, also to expect ; and the line means 'he must 
not expect good who does evil.' The very word is preserved by Ray, 
in his Proverbs, 3rd ed., 1737, p. 288:— 'He that evil does, never 
good wez'nes.' Hazlitt quotes a proverb to a like effect: ' He that does 
what he should not, shall feel what he would not.' Cf. * Whatsoever 
a man soweth, that shall he also reap ' ; Gal. \\. 7. 

432L A common proverb; cf. Ps. vii. 16, ix. 15. 

' For often he that will beguile 
Is guiled with the same guile, 
And thus the guiler is beguiled.' 

Gower, Conf. Amant (bk. vi), iii. 47. 

' Beg}ded is the gyler thanne'; Rom. Rose, 5759. 

See further in my note to P. Plowman, C. xxxi. 166, and Kemble's 
Solomon and Saturn, p. 63. Le Rom. de la Rose, 7381, has:— 'Qui 
les deceveors decoivent.' 


I can add another example from Caxton's Fables of /Esop, lib. ii. 
fab. 12 (The Fox and the Stork): — 'And therfore he that begyleth 
other is oftyme begyled hymself.' 

The Cook's Prologue. 

4329. hcrhergage, lodging ; alluding to 1. 4123. 

4.331. Not from Solomon, but from Ecclesiasticus, xi. 3 1 : ' Non omnem 
hominem inducas in domum tuum ; multae enim sunt insidiae dolosi.' 
In the E. version, it is verse 29. 

4336. Hogge, Hodge, for Roger (1. 4353I. Ware, in Hertfordshire. 

4346. laten blood, let blood, i. e. removed gravy from. It refers to 
a meat-pie, baked with gravy in it ; as it was not sold the day it was 
made, the gravy was removed to make it keep longer ; and so the pie 
was eaten at last, when far from being new. 

4347. The meaning of ' a Jack of Dover' has been much disputed, 
but it probably meant a pie that had been cooked more than once. 
Some have thought it meant a sole (probably a fried sole), as ' Dover 
soles ' are still celebrated ; but this is only a guess, and seems to be 
wrong. Sir T. More, Works, p. 675 E, speaks of a 'Jak of Paris, 
an evil pye twyse baken'; which is probably the same thing. 
Roquefort's French Did. has : — 

'■ Jaquet, Jaket, impudent, menteur. C'est sans doute de ce mot que 
les patissiers ont pris leur mot d'argot jaqiies, pour signifier qu'une 
pi^ce de volaille, de viande ou de patisserie cuite au four, est vieille 
ou dure.* 

See Hazlitt's Proverbs, p. 20; and Hazlitt's Shakespeare Jest-books, 
ii. 366. Hence, in a secondary sense, Jack of Dover meant an old 
story, or hashed up anecdote. Ray says : — ' This he [T. Fuller] 
makes parallel to Crainbe bis coda, and applicable to such as grate 
the ears of their auditors with ungrateful tautologies of what is worth- 
less in itself; tolerable as once uttered in the notion of novelty, but 
abominable if repeated.' This may explain the fact that an old jest- 
book was printed with the title A Jack of Dover in 1604, and again in 
161 5. The E. wordi jack has indeed numerous senses. 

4350. The insinuation is that stray flies were mixed up with the 
parsley served up with the Cook's geese. Tyrwhitt quotes from MS. 
Harl. 279 — * Take percely,' &c. in a receipt for stuffing a goose ; so 
that parsley was sometimes used for this purpose. It was also used 
for stuffing chickens ; see Liber Cure Cocorum, ed. !Morris, p. 22. 

4357. 'A true jest is an evil jest.' Hazlitt, in his Collection of 
Proverbs, gives, ' True jest is no jest,' and quotes ' Sooth bourd is no 
bourd' from Heywood, and from Harington's Brief Apologie of Poetrie, 
1 591. Kelly's Scotch Proverbs includes: 'A sooth bourd is nae bourd.' 
Tyrwhitt alters the second play to spe!, as being a Flemish word, but 
he only found it in two MSS. (Askew i and 2), and nothing is gained 

LI. 4329-79-1 THE COKES TALE. 129 

by it. - The fact is, that there is nothing Flemish about the proverb 
except the word quad, though there may have been an equivalent 
proverb in that language. We must take Chaucer's remark to mean 
that ' Sooth play is what a Fleming would call quaad ^Xdt.y'' \ which is 
then quite correct. For just as Flemish does not use the English 
words J^w//i and //^y, so English seldom uses the Flemish form qtiaad, 
equivalent to the Dutch kwaad, evil, bad, spelt qnade in Hexham's 
Du. Diet. (1658). Cf. also O. Friesic kivad, quad, East Friesic kiodd 
(still in common use). The Mid. Eng. form is not quad, but (properly) 
qued or queed; see examples in Stratmann, s. v. cwcd. In P. Plowman, 
B. xiv. 189, i/ie qued means the Evil One, the devil. Oueed occurs as 
a sb. as late as in Skclton, ed. Dyce, i. 168. We find, however, the 
rare I\I. E. form quad in Cower, ed. Pauli, ii. 246, and in the Story of 
Genesis and Exodus, ed. Morris, 536; and in another passage of the 
Cant. Tales, viz. B. 1628. The oldest English examples seem to be 
those in the Blickling Glosses, viz. * of cweade arasrende, de stercore 
e7igens'; and ' cwed uel meox, siercus' There is no difficulty about 
the etymology; the corresponding O. H. G. word is qudf, whence 
G. Kotk or Kot, excrement ; and the root appears in the Skt. gu or gu, 
to void excrement ; see Koi in Kluge. 

4858. This is interesting, as giving us the Host's name. Herry is 
the mod. E. Harry, with the usual change from er to ar, as in M. E. 
derk, dark, &c. It is the same as the F. Herri (not uncommon in 
O. F.), made from F. Henri by assimilation of iir to rr. 

The name seems to have been taken from that of a real person. In 
the Subsidy Rolls, 4 Rich. II. (i 380-1), for South wark, occurs the 
entry — 'Henri' Bayliff, Ostyler, Xpian [Christian] ux[or] eius . . ij j.' 
In the parliament held at Westminster, in 50 Edw. III. (1376-7), 
Henry Bailly was one of the representatives for that borough ; and 
again, in the parliament at Gloucester, 2 Rich. II., the name occurs. 
See Notes and Queries, 2 S. iii. 228. 

The Cokes Tale. 

4368. ' Brown as a berr>^' So in A. 207. 

4377. 'There were sometimes Justs in Cheapside ; Hollingshead, 
vol. ii. p. 348. But perhaps any procession may be meant.' — Tyrwhitt. 
* Cheapside was the grand scene of city festivals and processions.' — 

4379. T. has And til, but his note says that And was inserted by 
himself. Wright reads, 'And tyl he hadde'; but And is not in the 
Harleian MS. Observe that Wright insists \exy much on the fact 
that he reproduces this MS. ' with literal accuracy,' though he allows 
himself, according to his own account, to make silent alterations due 
to collation with the Lansdowne IMS. But the word And is not to be 
found in any of the seven MSS., and this is ox\\y one example of the 
numerous cases in which he has silently altered his text without any 



MS. authority at all. His text, in fact, is full of treacherous pitfalls; 
and Bell's edition is quite as bad, though that likewise pretends to be 

The easiest way of scanning the line is to ignore the elision of 
the final e in had-de, which is preserved, as often, by the cicsural pause. 

4383. sette steven, made an appointment ; see A. 1524. 

4394. ' Though he (the master) may have,' &c. 

4396. * Though he (the apprentice) may know how to play,' &c. 
Opposed to 1. 4394. The sense is^' The master pays for the revelling 
of the apprentice, though he takes no part in such revel ; and conversely, 
the apprentice may gain skill in minstrelsy, but takes no part in paying 
for it ; for, in his case, his rioting is convertible with theft.' The master 
pays, but plays not ; the other pays not, but plays. 

4397. ' Revelling and honesty, in the case of one of low degree (who 
has no money), are continually wrath with (i. e. opposed to) each 

4402. * And sometimes carried off to Newgate, with revel (such as he 
might be supposed to approve of).' The point of the allusion lies in 
the fact that, when disorderly persons were carried to prison, they 
were preceded by minstrels, in order to call public attention to their 
disgrace. This is clearly shewn in the Liber Albus, pp. 459, 460, 
(p. 396 of the E. translation). E. g. ' Item, if any person shall be im- 
peached of adultery, and be thereof lawfully attainted, let him be taken 
iinto Neivgatc, and from thence, ivith nitJistrelsy, through Chepe, to 
the Tun on Cornhulle [Cornhill], there to remain at the will of the 
mayor and alderman.' 

4404. paper. The allusion is not clear ; perhaps it means that he 
was refening to his account-book, and found it unsatisfactor)'. 

4406. In Hazlitt's Proverbs we find ; ' The rotten apple injures its 
neighbour.' Cf. G. 964. 

In the Ayenbite of Inwyt, p. 205, we are bidden to avoid bad 
company, because a rotten apple rots the sound ones, if left among 

In Ida von Diiringsfeld's Sprichworter, 1872-5, no. 354, is : — 'Ein 
fauler Apfel steckt den andern an. Pomum compunctum cite cor- 
rumpit sibi iunctum.' 

4413. his leve, his leave to go, his dismissal, his conge. 

4414. or leve, or leave it, i. e. or desist from it. 

4415. for, because, since. louke, an accomplice who entices the 
dupe into the thief's company, a decoyer of victims. Not 'a receiver 
to a thief,' as Tyrwhitt guessed, but his assistant in thieving, one who 
helped him (as Chaucer says) to suck others by stealing or borrowing. 
It answers to an A. S. *l7lca (not found), formed with the agential 
suffix -a from If/can, lit. to pull, pluck, root up weeds, hence 
(probably) to draw, entice. The corresponding E. Friesic liikan or 
lukan means not only to pull, pluck, but also to milk or suck (see 
Koolman). The Low G. Itiken means not only to pull up weeds, but 

LI. 4383-422.] THE COKES TALE. 131 

also to suck down, or to take a long pull in drinking ; hence O. F. 
louchier, loukier, to swallow. From the A. S. lucan^ to pluck up, comes 
the common prov. E. lottk, lou'k, look, to pluck up weeds; see Ray, 
Whitby Glossary, &c. 

4417. brybe, to purloin ; not to bribe in the modern sense ; see the 
New E. Diet. 

4422. Here the Tale suddenly breaks off; so it was probably never 

*** See Notes to Gamelin at the end of the Notes to the Tales. 


Introduction to the Man of Lawes Tale. 

V'' 1. If, as Mr. Fumivall supposes, the time of the telhng of the 
Canterbury Tales be taken to be longer than one day, we may 
suppose the Man of Lawes Tale to begin the stories told on the second 
morning of the journey, April i8. Otherwise, we must suppose all the 
stories in Group A to precede it, which is not impossible, if we suppose 
the pilgrims to have started early in the morning. 

Hosie. This is one of the words which are sometimes dissyllabic, 
and sometimes monosyllabic ; it is here a dissyllable, as in 1. 39. See 
note to line 1883 below. 

sey, i.e. saw. The forms of 'saw' vary in the MSS. In this line 
we find saugh, sau/i, segJi, satihe, satu/i, none of Mhich are Chaucer's 
own, but due to the scribes. The true form is determined by the rime, 
as in the Clerkes Tale, E. 667, where most of the MSS. have say. A 
still better spelling is sey, which may be found in the House of Fame, 
II51, where it rimes with /ay. The A. S. form is seah. 

2. The ark, &c. In Chaucer's Treatise on the Astrolabe, pt. ii. ch. 7 
(vol. iii. 194), is the proposition headed — ' to knowe the arch of the day, 
that some folk callen the day artificial, from the sonne arysing til hit go 
to reste.' Thus, while the ' day natural ' is twenty-four hours, the ' day 
artificial ' is the time during which the sun is above the horizon. The 
* arc ' of this day merely means the extent or duration of it, as reckoned 
along the circular rim of an astrolabe ; or, when measured along the 
horizon (as here), it means the arc extending from the point of sunrise 
to that of sunset, ronne, run, performed, completed. 

3. The fourthe part. The true explanation of this passage, which 
Tyrvvhitt failed to discover, is due to Mr. A. E. Brae, who first published 
it in May, 185 1, and reprinted it at p. 68 of his edition of Chaucer's 
Treatise on the Astrolabe. His conclusions were based upon actual 
calculation, and will be mentioned in due order. In re-editing the 
' Astrolabe,' I took the opportunity of roughly checking his calculations 
by other methods, and am satisfied that he is quite correct, and that the 
day meant is not the 28th of April, as in the Ellesmere MS., nor the 
13th of April, as in the Harleian MS., but the 18th, as in the Hengwrt 


MS. and most others. It is easily seen that xviii may be corrupted 
into xxviii by prefixing x, or into xiii by the omission of v ; this may 
account for the variations. 

The key to the whole matter is given by a passage in Chaucer's 
' Astrolabe,' pt. ii. ch. 29, where it is clear that Chaucer (who, however, 
merely translates from Messahala) actually confuses the hour-angle with 
the azimuthal arc ; that is, he considered it correct to find the hour of 
the day by noting the point of the horizon over which the sun appears 
to stand, and supposing this point to advance, with a uniform, not 
a variable, motion. The host's method of proceeding was this. Wanting 
to know the hour, he observed how far the sun had moved southward 
along the horizon since it rose, and saw that it had gone more than 
half-way from the point of sunrise to the exact southern point. Now 
the 1 8th of April in Chaucer's time answers to the 26th of April at 
present. On April 26, 1874, the sun rose at 4h. 43m., and set at 
7h. 12m., giving a day of about I4h. 30m., the fourth part of which is at 
8h. 20 m., or, with sufficient exactness, at half past eight. This would 
leave a whole hour and a half to signify Chaucer's ' half an houre and 
more,' shewing that further explanation is still necessary. The fact is, 
however, that the host reckoned, as has been said, in another way, 
viz. by observing the sun's position with reference to the horizo?i. On 
April 18 the sun was in the 6th degree of Taurus at that date, as we 
again learn from Chaucer's treatise. Set this 6th degree of Taurus on the 
East horizon on a globe, and it is found to be 22 degrees to the North 
of the East point, or 1 12 degrees from the South. The half of this is at 
56 degrees from the South ; and the sun would seem to stand above 
this 56th degree, as may be seen even upon a globe, at about a quarter 
past nine ; but Mr. Brae has made the calculation, and shews that it 
was at twenty vmiutes past nine. This makes Chaucer's ' half an 
houre and more ' to stand for half an hour atid ten minutes ; an extremely 
neat result. But this we can check again by help of the host's other 
observation. He also took note, that the lengths of a shadow and its 
object were equal, whence the sun's altitude must have been 45 degrees. 
Even a globe will shew that the sun's altitude, when in the 6th degree 
of Taurus, and at 10 o'clock in the morning, is somewhere about 45 or 
46 degrees. But Mr. Brae has calculated it exactly, and his result is, 
that the sun attained its altitude of 45 degrees at two minutes to ten 
exactly. This is even a closer approximation than we might expect, 
and leaves no doubt about the right date being the eighteenth of April. 
For fuller particulars, see Chaucer on the Astrolabe, ed. Brae, p. 69 ; 
and ed. Skeat (E. E. T. S.), preface, p. 1. 

5. eightetethe, eighteenth. Mr. Wright prints eightetene, with the 
remark that 'this is the reading in which the MSS. seem mostly to 
agree.' This is right in substance, but not critically exact. No such 
word as eightctene appears here in the MSS., which denote the number 
by an abbreviation, as stated in the footnote. The Hengwrt MS. has 
xz'iijthe, and the Old English for eighteenth must have have been eighte- 


tethe^ the ordinal, not the cardinal number. This form is easily inferred 
from the numerous examples in which -teetith is represented by -tetlie ; 
s&t feowertethe, /i/iethe, &c. in Stratmann's Old English Dictionary; 
we find the very form eighiclethe in Rob. of Glouc, ed. Wright, 6490 ; 
and eighteteotJie in St. Swithin, 1. 5, as printed in Poems and Lives of 
Saints, ed. Fumivall, 1858, p. 43. Eiglite is of two syllables, from A. S. 
eahta, cognate with Lat. octo. Eightcteihe has four syllables ; see A. 
3223, and the note. 
8. as in letigihe, with respect to its length. 

13. The astrolabe which Chaucer gave to his little son Lewis was 
adapted for the latitude of Oxford. If, as is likely, the poet-astronomer 
checked his statements in this passage by a reference to it, he would 
neglect the difference in latitude between Oxford and the Canterbury' 
road. In fact, it is less than a quarter of a degree, and not worth con- 
sidering in the present case. 

14. gan conclude, did conclude, concluded. Gan is often used thus 
as an auxiliary verb. 

15. plighte, plucked; cf. shrighie, shrieked, in Kn. A. 2817. — M. 

16. Lordinges, sirs. This form of address is exceedingly common in 
Early English poetry. Cf. the first line in the Tale of Sir Thopas. 

18. seint lohn. See the Squire's Tale, F. 596. 

19. Leseth, lose ye ; note the form of the imperative plural in -cih ; 
cf. 1. 27. As ferforth as ye may, as far as lies in your power. 

20. wasteth, consumeth ; cf. wastotir, a wasteful person, in P. Plowm. 
B. vi. 154. — M. HI. \\2i%passeth, i. e. passes away ; several MSS. insert 
it before was/eih, but it is not required by the metre, since the e in time 
is here fully sounded ; cf. A. S. tuna. Compare — 

* The tyme, that passeth night and day, 
And rest[e]lees travayleth ay, 
And steleth from us so prively, 

• •«•••• 

As water that doun tiinneth ay. 
But never drope 7-etu7ne way,' &c. 

Romaunt of the Rose, I. 369. 
See also Clerkes Tale, E. 118. 

21. what. We now say — what with. It means, 'partly owing to.' 

22. ivakinge; strictly, it means watching; but here, in our wakings 
= whilst we are awake. 

23. Cf. Ovid, Art. Amat. iii. 62-65 :— 

' Ludite ; eunt anni more fluentis aquae. 
Nee quae praeteriit, cursu reuocabitur unda ; 

Nee, quae praeteriit, hora redire potest. 
Utendum est aetate ; cito pede labitur aetas.' 

25, Seneca wrote a treatise De Breuitate Temporis, but this does not 
contain any passage very much resembling the text. I have no doubt 
that Chaucer was thinking of a passage which may easily have caught 


his eye, as being very near the beginning of the first of Seneca's epistles. 
' Quaedam tempora eripiuntur nobis, quaedam subducuntur, quaedam 
effluunf. Turptssi)iia tivnen est iactura, quae per uegligentiam fit. 
Quern mihi dabis, qui aliquod pretium tempori ponat .' qui diem aesti- 
met ? ... In huius rei unius fugacis ac lubricae possessionem naturanos 
misit, ex qua expeHit quicumque uult ; et tanta stultitia mortalium est, ut, 
quae minima et uilissima sint, certe reparabilia, imputari sibi, quum im- 
petrauere, patiantur ; nemo se iudicet quidquam debere, qui tempus 
accepit, quum interim hoc uniuii est, quod ne gratus quidem potest 
reddere'; Epist. I. ; Seneca Lucilio suo. 

30. Malkin ; a proverbial name for a wanton woman ; see P. Plow- 
man, C. ii. 181 (B. i. 182), and my note. ' There are more maids than 
Malkin'; Heywood's Proverbs. 

32. inouicn, lit. 'become mouldy' ; hence, be idle, stagnate, remain 
sluggish, rot. See Mouldy in the Appendix to my Etym. Diet. 2nd ed. 
1884 ; and cf. note to A. 3870. 

33. Man of Lawe. This is the ' sergeant of the lawe ' described in 
the Prologue, 11. 309-330. So have ye bits, so may you obtain bliss ; 
as you hope to reach heaven. 

34. as for-cLuird is, as is the agreement. See Prologue, A. 33, 829. 

35. been submitted, hdivt agreed. This illustrates the common usage 
of expressing a perfect by the verb to be and the past part, of an intran- 
sitive verb. Cf. is went, in B. 1730. — M. 

36. at my lugement, at my decree ; ready to do as I bid you. See 
Prologue, A. 818 and 833. 

37. Acquiteth yow, acquit yourself, viz. by redeeming your promise. 
holdeth your biheste, keep your promise. Acquit means to absolve or 
free oneself from a debt, obligation, charge, (S:c. ; or to free oneself from 
the claims of duty, by fulfilling it. 

38. devoir, duty; see Knightes Tale, A. 2598. 

atte leste, at the least. Atte or atten is common in Old English 
for at the or at then ; the latter is a later form of A. S. cet pam, where 
then [=pam) is the dative case of the article. But for the explanation 
of peculiar forms and words, the Glossarial Index should be consulted. 

39. For ich, Tyrwhitt reads jeo=je, though found in none of our 
seven MSS. This makes the whole phrase French— ^.^ par dieux jeo 
assente. Mr. Jephson suggests that this is a clever hit of Chaucer's, 
because he makes the Man of Lawe talk in French, with which, as 
a lawyer, he was very familiar. However, we find elsewhere — 

'Quod Troilus, '■'' depardieux I assente";'' — 

and again — 

^ ^' Depardieux," qyxod she, "god leve al be wel";' 
Troilus and Cres. ii. 1058 and 1212; 

and in the Freres Tale, D. 1395— 

^ " Depardieux,'' quod this yeman, " dere brother."' 


It is much more to the point to observe that the Man of Lawe talks 
about hmi in 1. 43. Cotgrave, in his French Dictionary, under par, 
gives — ^ De par Dieu soil, a [i. e. in] God's name be it. De par tnoy^ 
by my means. De par le roy, by the king's appointment.' De par is 
a corruption of O.Fr. de part, on the part or side of; so that de par le 
roy means literally, ' as for the king,' i. e. 'in the king's name.' Similarly, 
de par Dieu is ' in God's name.' See Burguy, Oammaire de la Langue 
D'oil, ii. 359. The form dietix is a nominative, from the Latin deiis ; thus 
exhibiting an exception to the almost universal law in French, that the 
modern F. substantives answer to the accKsative of Latin substan- 
tives, as Jlei(r to Jlorein, Sec. Other exceptions may be found in some 
proper names, as Charles, Jacqjics, from Carolus, Jacobus, and mjils, 

4L In the Morality entitled Everyman, in Hazlitt's Old Eng. Plays, 
i. 137, is the proverb — 'Yet promise is debt.' Mr. Hazlitt wrongly 
considers that as the earliest instance of the phrase. — M. Cf. Hoccleve, 
De Regim. Principum, p. 64 : — ' And of a trewe man beheest is dette^ 

holde fayn, &c. ; gladly perform all my promise. 

43. 7/ian . . . anol/;er = one . . . another. The Cambridge MS. is 
right. — M. ' For whatever law a man imposes on others, he should 
in justice consider as binding on himself.' This is obviously a guo- 
tation, as appears from 1. 45. The expression referred to was probably 
proverbial. An English proverb says — ' They that make the laws must 
not break them ' ; a Spanish one — * El que ley establece, guardarla 
debe,' he who makes a law ought to keep it ; and a Latin one— 
' Patere legem quam ipse tulisti,' abide by the law which you made 
yourself. The idea is expanded in the following passage from Claudian's 
Panegyric on the 4th consulship of Honorius, carm. viii., 1. 296. — 

' In commune iubes si quid censesue tenendum. 
Primus iussa subi ; tunc obseruantior aequi 
Fit populus, nee ferre negat cum uiderit ipsum 
Auctorem parere sibi.' 
45. text, quotation from an author, precept, saying. Thus wol our 
text, i. e. such is what the expression implies. 

47. But. This reading is given by Tyrwhitt, from MS. Dd. 4. 24 in the 
Cambridge University Library and two other MSS. All our seven 
MSS. read That; but this would require the word Nath (hath not) 
instead of Hath, in 1. 49. Chaucer talks about his writings in a similar 
strain in A. 746, 1460 ; and at a still earlier period, in his House of 
Fame, 620, w^here Jupiter's eagle says to him : — 

' And nevertheles hast set thy wit. 
Although that in thy hede ful lyte is. 
To make bokes, songes, dytees, 
In ryme, or elles in cadence, 
As thou best canst, in reverence 
Of Love, and of his servants eke'; &c. 


cati but lewedly ofi metres, is but slightly skilled in metre. 
Can — knows here; in the line above it is the ordinary auxiliary 

54. Ovid is mentioned for two reasons ; because he has so many 
love-stories, and because Chaucer himself borrowed several of his own 
from Ovid. 

made of mencioun ; we should now say — ' made mention of.' 

55. Episielles, Epistles. (T. prints Episto/is, the Lat. form, without 
authority. The word has here four syllables.) The book referred to 
is Ovid's Heroides, which contains twenty-one love-letters. See note 
to 1. 61. 

56. What, why, on what account? cf. Prologue, A. 184. 

57. ' The story of Ceyx and Alcyone is related in the introduction 
to the poem which was for some time called " The Uremeof Chaucer," 
but which, in the MSS. Fairfax 16 and Bodl. 638, is more properly 
entitled, "The Boke of the Duchesse.'" — Tyrwhitt. Chaucer took it 
from Ovid's Metamorphoses, bk. xi. ' Ceyx and Alcyone ' was once, 
probably, an independent poem ; see vol. i. p. 63. 

59. Thise is a monosyllable ; the final e probably denotes that s was 
'voiced,' and perhaps the / was long, pronounced (dhiiz). 

59, 60. For eek, seek, read eke, seke. Here sek-e is in the infinitive 
mood. The form ek-e is not etymological, as the A.S. eac was a mono- 
syllable ; but, as -e frequently denoted an adverbial suffix, it was 
easily added. Hence, in M.E., both eek and ek-e occur ; and Chaucer 
uses either form at pleasure, ek-e being more usual. For examples of 
eekf see E. 1349, G. 794. 

61. the seifites legende of Cupyde ; better known now as The Legend 
of Good Women. Tyrwhitt says — ' According to Lydgate (Prologue 
to Boccace), the number [of good women] was to have been nineteen ; 
and perhaps the Legend itself affords some ground for this notion ; 
see 1. 283, and Court of Love, 1. 108. But this number was never com- 
pleted, and the last story, of Hypermnestra, is seemingly unfinished. . . . 
In this passage the Man of Lawe omits two ladies, viz. Cleopatr^ and 
Philomela, whose histories are in the Legend ; and he enumerates 
eight others, of whom there are no histories in the Legend as we have it 
at present. Are we to suppose, that they have been lost V The Legend 
contains the nine stories following : i. Cleopatra ; 2. Thisbe ; 3. Dido; 
4. Hypsipyle and INIedea ; 5. Lucretia ; 6. Ariadne ; 7. Philomela; 
8. Phyllis ; 9. Hypermnestra. Of these, Chaucer here mentions, as 
Tyrwhitt points out, all but two, Cleopatra and Philomela. Before 
discussing the matter further, let me note that in medieval times, 
proper names took strange shapes, and the reader must not suppose 
that the writing of Adriane for Ariadne, for example, is peculiar to 
Chaucer. The meaning of the other names is as follows : — Liia-esse, 
Lucretia; BabilanTisbee,'Y\i\%\)^oiV>zhy\on; Enee,JEneas; Dianire, 
Deianira ; Hermion, Hermione ; Adriane, Ariadne ; Isiphilee, Hypsi- 
pyle ; Leandcr, Erro, Leander and Hero ; Eleyne, Helena ; Brixseyde, 


Briseis (ace. Briseida) ; Ladomea, Laodamia ; Ypermistra, Hyper- 
mnestra ; Alcesie, Alcestis. 

Returning to the question of Chaucer's plan for his Legend of Good 
Women, we may easily conclude what his intention was, though it was 
never carried out. He intended to write stories concerning nineteen 
women who were celebrated for being martyrs of love, and to conclude 
the series by an additional story concerning queen Alcestis, whom he 
regarded as the best of all the good women. Now, though he does 
not expressly say who these women were, he has left us two lists, both 
incomplete, in which he mentions some of them ; and by combining 
these, and taking into consideration the stories which he actually 
wrote, we can make out the whole intended series very nearly. One 
of the lists is the one given here ; the other is in a Ballad which is 
introduced into the Prologue to the Legend. The key to the incom- 
pleteness of the present list, certainly the later written of the two, is 
that the poet chiefly mentions here such names as are also to be found 
in Ovid's Heroides ; cf. 1. 55. Putting all the information together, it 
is sufficiently clear that Chaucer's intended scheme must have been 
very nearly as follows, the number of women (if we include Alcestis) 
being twenty. 

I. Cleopatra. 2. Thisbe. 3. Dido. 4. and 5. Hypsipyle and Medea. 
6. Lucretia. 7. Ariadne. 8. Philomela. 9. Phyllis. 10. Hypermnestra 
(unfinished). After which, \\.Vt.r\t\<:)^t. 12. Briseis. 13. Hermione. 
14. Deianira. 15. Laodamia. 16. Helen. 17. Hero. 18. Polyxena 
(see the Ballad). 19. either Lavinia (see the Ballad), or Oenone 
(mentioned in Ovid, and in the House of Fame). 20. Alcestis. 

Since the list of stories in Ovid's Heroides is the best guide to the 
whole passage, it is here subjoined. 

In this list, the numbers refer to the letters as numbered in Ovid ; 
the italics shew the stories which Chaucer actually wrote ; the asterisk 
points out such of the remaining stories as he happens to mention in 
the present enumeration ; and the dagger points out the ladies 
mentioned in his Prologue to the Legend of Good Women. 

1. Penelope Ulixi.* t 

2. Phyllis Demophoonti.^ t 

3. Briseis Achilli.* 

4. Phaedra Hippolyto. 

5. Oenone Paridi. 

6. Hypsipyle Jasoni f }■ 12. Medea lasoni* 

7. Dido Aeneae.* t 

8. Hermione Orestae.* 

9. Deianira Herculi.* 

10. Ariadne Theseo* t 

11. Canace Macareo * t {expressly rejected). 

13. Laodamia Protesilao.* t 

14. Hypermnestra Lynceo* t 

15. Sappho Phaoni. 


16. Paris Helenae; 17. Helena Paridi.* t 
18. Leander Heroni ; 19. Hero Leandro.* t 
20. Acontius Cydippae ; 21. Cydippe Acontio. 

Chaucer's method, I fear, was to plan more than he cared to finish. 
He did so with his Canterbury' Tales, and again with his Treatise on 
the Astrolabe ; and he left the Squire's Tale half-told. According to 
his own account (Prologue to Legend of Good Women, 1. 481) he 
never intended to write his Legend all at once, but only ' yeer by yere.' 
Such proposals are dangerous, and commonly end in incompleteness. 
To Tyrwhitt's question — 'are we to suppose that they [i.e. the legends 
of Penelope and others] have been lost ? ' the obvious answer is, that 
they were never written. 

Chaucer alludes to Ovid's Epistles again in his House of Fame, 
bk. i., where he mentions the stories of Phyllis, Briseis, Oenone (not 
mentioned here), Hypsipyle, Medea, Deianira, Ariadne, and Dido; 
the last being told at some length. Again, in the Book of the 
Duchesse, he alludes to Medea, Phyllis, and Dido (11. 726-734) ; to 
Penelope and Lucretia (1. 1081); and to Helen (1. 331). As for the 
stories in the Legend which are not in Ovid's Heroides, we find that 
of Thisbe in Ovid's Metamorphoses, bk. iv ; that of Philomela in the 
same, bk. vi ; whilst those of Cleopatra and Lucretia are in Boccaccio's 
book De Claris Mulieribus, from which he imitated the title 'Legend 
of Good Woinen^ and derived also the story of Zenobia, as told in the 
Monkes Tale. However, Chaucer also consulted other sources, such as 
Ovid's Fasti (ii. 721) and Livy for Lucretia, &c. See my Introduction 
to the Legend in vol. iii. pp. xxv., xxxvii. 

With regard to the title ' seintes legend of Cupide,' which in modern 
English would be ' Cupid's Saints' Legend,' or ' the Legend of Cupid's 
Saints,' Mr. Jephson remarks — ' This name is one example of the way 
in which Chaucer entered into the spirit of the heathen pantheism, as 
a real form of religion. He considers these persons, who suffered for 
love, to have been saints and martyrs for Cupid, just as Peter and Paul 
and Cyprian were martyrs for Christ.' 

63. Gower also tells the stor>' of Tarquin and Lucrece, which he 
took, says Professor Morley (English Writers, iv. 230), from the 
Gesta Romanorum, which again had it from Augustine's De Ciritate 

Babilan, Babylonian; elsewhere Chaucer has Bah'loi'/ie =^Bahylon, 
riming with Macedome\ Book of the Duchesse, 1. 1061. 

64. S7uerd, sword; put here for death by the sword. See Virgil's 
Aeneid, iv. 646 ; and Chaucer's Legend of Good Women, 1 351. 

65. tree, put here, most likely, for death by hanging ; cf. last line. 
In Chaucer's Legend, 2485, we find — 

' She was her owne deeth right "with a corded 

The word may also be taken literally, since Phyllis was metamorphosed 
after her death into a tree ; Gower says she became a nut-tree, and 


derives filbert from Phyllis ; Conf. Amant. bk. iv. Lydgate writes 
filbert instead of Phyllis ; Complaint of Black Knight, 1. 68. 

66. The pleinte of Dianire, the complaint of Deianira, referring to 
Ovid's letter ' Deianira Herculi '; so also that of Hermion refers to the 
letter entitled ' Hermione Orestae'; that o{ Adriane^ to the 'Ariadne 
Theseo'; and i\\?LioiIsip/iilee, to the ' Hypsipyle lasoni.' 

68. bareyne yle, barren island ; of which I can find no correct ex- 
planation by a previous editor. It refers to Ariadne, mentioned in the 
previous line. The expression is taken from Ariadne's letter to Theseus, 
in Ovid's Heroides, Ep. x. 59, where we find 'uacat insula cultu'; and 
just below— 

' Omne latus terrae cingit mare ; nauita nusquam, 
Nulla per ambiguas puppis itura uias.' 

Or, without referring to Ovid at all, the allusion might easily have been 
explained by observing Chaucer's Legend of Ariadne, 1. 2163, where 
the island is described as solitary and desolate. It is said to have 
been the isle of Naxos. 

69. Scan — The dreynt | e L^ | ander ( . Here the pp. dreynt is used 
adjectivally, and takes the final e in the definite form. So in the Book 
of the Duchesse, 195, it is best to read the dreynte ; and in the House 
of Fame, 1783, we must read the siveynte. 

75. Alceste. The story of Alcestis — ' that turned was into a dayesie ' 
— is sketched by Chaucer in his Prologue to the Legend, 1. 511, &c. 
No doubt he intended to include her amongst the Good Women, as the 
very queen of them all. 

78. Canacee ; not the Canace of the Squieres Tale, whom Chaucer 
describes as so kind and good as well as beautiful, but Ovid's Canace. 
The story is told by Cower, Confess. Amantis, book iii. It is difficult 
to resist the conclusion that Chaucer is here making a direct attack 
upon Cower, his former friend ; probably because Cower had, in some 
places, imitated the earlier edition of Chaucer's Man of Lawes Tale. 
This difficult question is fully discussed in vol. iii. pp. 413-7. 

81. ' Or else the story of Apollonius of Tyre.' The form Tyro 
represents the Lat. ablative in ' Apollonius de Tyro.' This story, like 
that of Canacee (note to 1. 78), is told by Gower, Conf. Amant. bk. viii., 
ed. Pauli, iii. 284 ; and here again Chaucer seems to reflect upon 
Gower. The story occurs in the Gesta Romanorum, in which it appears 
as Tale cliii., being the longest story in the whole collection. It is 
remarkable as being the only really romantic story extant in an Anglo- 
Saxon version ; see Thorpe's edition of it, London, 1834. It is therefore 
much older than 1 190, the earliest date assigned by Warton. Compare 
the play of Pericles, Prince of Tyre. 

89. if that I 7nay, as far as lies in my power (to do as I please) ; 
a common expletive phrase, of no great force. 

90. of as to, with regard to. doofi, accomplish it. 

92. Piertdes ; Tyrwhitt rightly says—' He rather means, I think, the 


daughters of Pierus, that contended with the Muses, and were changed 
into pies ; Ovid, Metam. bk. v.' Yet the expression is not wrong ; it 
signifies — ' I do not wish to be likened to those ivould-bc Muses, the 
Pierides '; in other words, I do not set myself up as worthy to be 
considered a poet. 

93. Metamorphoseos. It was common to cite books thus, by a title in 
the genitive case, since the word Liber was understood. There is, 
however, a slight error in this substitution of the singular for the plural ; 
the true title being P. Ovidii Nasonis Metamorphoseon Libri Ouindecim. 
See the use oi Encydos in the Nonne Prestes Tale, B. 4549 ; and of 
Judicunt in Monk. Ta. B. 3236. 

94. * But, nevertheless, I care not a bean.' Cf. 1. 4004 below. 

95. with hawe bake, with plain fare, as Dr. Morris explains it; it 
obviously means something of a humble character, unsuited for a refined 
taste. This was left unexplained by Tynvhitt, but we may fairly trans- 
late it literally by ' with a baked haw,' i. e. something that could just be 
eaten by a very hungry person. The expression I sette nat an hawe ( = I 
care not a haw) occurs in the Wyf of Bathes Prologue, D. 659. Haws 
are mentioned as given to feed hogs in the Vision of Piers Plowman, 
B. X. 10 ; but in The Romance of William of Palerne, I. i8ii,a lady 
actually tells her lover that they can live in the woods on haws, hips, 
acorns, and hazel-nuts. There is a somewhat similar passage in the 
Legend of Good Women, Prol. 11. 7^-77 . I see no difficulty in this 
explanation. That proposed by Mr. Jephson— 'hark back' — is out 
of the question ; we cannot rime bak with make, nor does it make 

Baken was a strong verb in M. E,, with the pp. baken or bake 
(A. S. bacen). Dr. Stratmann, apparently by mistake, enters this phrase 
under hawe, adj. dark grey ! But he refrains from explaining bake. 

^^. I speke in prose, I generally have to speak in prose in the law 
courts ; so that if my tale is prosy as compared with Chaucer's, it is 
only what you would expect. Dr. Furnivall suggests that perhaps the 
prose tale of Melibeus was originally meant to be assigned to the Man 
of Lawe. See further in vol. iii. p. 406. 

98. after, afterwards, immediately hereafter. Cf. other for otherwise 
in Old English.— M. 

Prologue to the Man of Lawes Tale. 

99-12L It is important to observe that more than three stanzas of this 
Prologue are little else than a translation from the treatise by Pope 
Innocent III. entitled De Contemptu Mundi, sive de Miseria Condi- 
tionis Humanae. This was first pointed out by Prof. Lounsbur)', of Yale, 
Newhaven, U. S. A., in the Nation, July 4, 1889. He shewed that the 
lost work by Chaucer (viz. his translation of ' the Wreched Engendring 
of Mankinde As man may in Pope Innocent y-finde,' mentioned in the 
Legend of Good Women, Prologue A, 1. 414) is not lost altogether, 


since we find traces of it in the first four stanzas of the present 
Prologue ; in the stanzas of the IVIan of Lawes Tale which begin, 
respectively, with lines 421, 771, 925, and 1135 ; and in some passages 
in the Pardoner's Prologue ; as will be pointed out. 

It will be observed that if Chaucer, as is probable, has preserved 
extracts from this juvenile work of his without much alteration, it must 
have been originally composed in seven-line stanzas, like his Second 
Nonnes Tale and Man of Lawes Tale. 

I here transcribe the original of the present passage from Innocent's 
above-named treatise, lib. i. c. 16, marking the places where the 
stanzas begin. 

De miseria divitis et pauperis. (99) Pauperes enim premuntur 
inedia, cruciantur aerumna, fame, siti, frigore, nuditate ; vilescunt, 
tabescunt, spemuntur, et confunduntur. O miserabilis mcndicantis 
conditio ; et si petit, pudore confunditur, et si non petit, egestate 
consumitur, sed ut mendicet, necessitate compellitur. (106) Deum 
causatur iniquum, quod non recte dividat ; proximum criminatur malig- 
num, quod non plene subveniat. Indignatur, murraurat, imprecatur. 
(113) Adverte super hoc sententiam Sapientis, 'Melius est,' inquit, 
* mori quam indigere ' : ' Etiam proximo suo pauper odiosus erit.' 
'Omnes dies pauperis mali'; (120) 'fratres hominis pauperis oderunt 
eum ; insuper et amici procul recesserunt ab eo.' 

For further references to the quotations occurring in the above 
passage, see the notes below, to 11. 114, 118, 120. 

99. poverte=poverte, with the accent on the second syllable, as it 
rimes with herie ; in the Wyf of Bathes Tale, it rimes with sherte. 
Poverty is here personified, and addressed by the Man of Lavve. The 
whole passage is illustrated by a similar long passage near the end 
of the Wyf of Bathes Tale, in which the opposite side of the question 
is considered, and the poet shews what can be said in Poverty's 
praise. See D. 1 177-1206. 

101. Thee is a dative, like me in 1, 91.— M. See Gen. ii. 15 (A. S. 
version), where him pees iie sceamode = \.hey were not ashamed of it ; lit. 
it shamed them not of it. 

102. artoiv, art thou ; the words being run together ; so also seistotv 
=sayest thou, in 1. 1 10. 

104. Maugree thyn heed, in spite of all you can do ; lit. despite thy 
head; see Knightes Tale, A. 1169, 2618, D. 8S7. 

105. Or . . . ^r= either ... or ; an early example of this construc- 
tion. — M. 

108. neighebour is a trisyllable ; observe that e in the middle of a word 
is frequently sounded ; cf. 1. 115. ivy test, blamest. 

110. * By my faith, sayest thou, he will have to account for it here- 
after, when his tail shall burn in the fire (lit. glowing coal), because he 
helps not the needy in their necessity.' 

114. 'It is better (for thee) to die than be in need.' Tyrwhitt 
says—' This saying of Solomon is quoted in the Romaunt of the Rose, 


1, 8573— Mieux vault mourir que pauvres estre'; [1. 8216, ed. M^on.] 
The quotation is not from Solomon, but from Jesus, son of Sirach; see 
Ecclus. xl. 28, where the Vulgate has — * Melius est enim mori quam 
indigere.' Cf. B. 2761. 

115. Thy selve neighebor, thy very neighbour, even thy next neighbour. 
See note to 1. 108. 

118. In Prov. xv. 15, the Vulgate version has—' Omnes dies pauperis 
mali '; where the A. V. has * the afflicted.' 

119. The reading to makes the line harsh, as the final e in come 
should be sounded, and therefore needs elision, in that prikke, into 
that point, into that condition ; cf. 1. 102S. 

120. Cf. Prov. xiv. 20 — * the poor is hated even of his neighbour ' ; 
or, in the Vulgate, ' Etiam proximo suo pauper odiosus erit.' Also 
Prov. xix. 7 — * all the brethren of the poor do hate him ; how much 
n^ore do his friends go far from him'; or, in the Vulgate, ' Fratres 
hominis pauperis oderunt eum ; insuper et amici procul recesserunt ab 
eo.' So too Ovid, Trist. i. 9, 5 : — 

.' Donee eris fclix, multos numerabis amicos, 
Tempora si fuerint nubila, solus eris.' 

Chaucer has the same thought again in his Tale of Melibeus (p. 227, 
B. 2749) — ' and if thy fortune change, that thou wexe povre, farewel 
freendshipe and felaweshipe ! ' See also note to B. 3436. 

123. OS in this cas, as relates to this condition or lot in life. In 
Chaucer, cas often means chance, hap. 

124. ambes as, double aces, two aces, in throwing dice. Atnbes is 
Old French for both, from Lat. ajnbo. The line in the Monkes Tale— 
' Thy sys fortune hath turned into as' (B. 3851)— helps us out here in 
some measure, as it proves that a six was reckoned as a good throw, 
but an ace as a bad one. So in Shakespeare, Mids. Nt. Dream, v. i. 
314, we find less than a7i ace explained as equivalent to notJiing. In the 
next line, sis cink means a six and a Jive, which was often a winning 
throw. The allusion is probably, however, not to the mere attempt as 
to which of two players could throw the highest, but to the particular 
game called hazard, in which the word chance (here used) has a special 
sense. There is a good description of it in the Supplemental volume 
to the English Cyclopaedia, div. Arts and Sciences. The whole de- 
scription has to be read, but it may suffice to say here that, when the 
caster is going to throw, he calls a main, or names one of the numbers 
five, six, seven, eight, or nine ; most often, he calls seven. If he then 
throws either seven or eleven (Chaucer's sis cink), he wins ; if he throws 
aces (Chaucer's ambes as) or deuce-ace (two and one), or double sixes, 
he loses. If he throws some other number, that number is called the 
caster's chance, and he goes on playing till either the main or the 
chance turns up. In the first case he loses, in the second, he wins. 
If he calls some other number, the winning and losing throws are some- 
what varied ; but in all cases, the double ace is a losing throw. 


Similarly, in The Pardoneres Tale, where hazard is mentioned by 
name (C. 591), we find, at 1. 653 — ' Seven is my chaunce, and thyn is 
cinq and treye,' i.e. eight. 

In Lydgate's Order of Fools, printed in Queen Elizabeth's Academy, 
ed. Furnivall, p. 81, one fool is described — 

' Whos chaunce gothe nether yn synke or sysc ; 
With atnbcs ase encressithe hys dispence.' 

And in a ballad printed in Chaucer's Works, ed. 1561, folio 340, back, 
we have — 

'So wel fortuned is their chaunce 

The dice to turne[n] vppe-so-doune. 
With sise and siticke they can auaunce.' 

The phrase was already used proverbially before Chaucer's time. In 
the metrical Life of St. Brandan, ed. T. Wright, p. 23, we find, 'hi caste 
an ambes as,' they cast double aces, i. e. they wholly failed. See Ambs- 
ace in the New E. Diet. Dr. Morris notes that the phrase 'aums ace' 
occurs in Hazlitt's O. E. Plays, ii. 35, with the editorial remark — 'not 
mentioned elsewhere ' (I). 

126. A/ Cristemasse, even at Christmas, when the severest weather 
comes. In olden times, severe cold must have tried the poor even 
more than it does now. 

' Muche myrthe is in may • amonge wilde bestes. 
And so forth whil somer lastej) • heore solace dure)) ; 
And muche myrthe amonge riche men is * ])at han meoble {property^ 

ynow and heele Ihealth^ 
Ac beggers aboute myd-somere • bredlees \^\ soupe, 
And 5ut is wynter for hem wors ' for wet-shood ))ei gangen, 
A-furst and a-fyngred {A thirst and ahimgered^ 'and foule rebuked 
Of ))ese worlde-riche men ' \2X reuthe hit is to huyre \Jiear of z't].' 

Piers Plowman, C. xvii. 10; B. xiv- 158. 

127. seken, search through ; much like the word covipass in the 
phrase 'ye compass sea and land ' in Matth. xxiii. 15. 

128. ihestaat, for the estaaf, i. e. the estate. This coalescence 
of the article and substantive is common in Chaucer, when the 
substantive begins with a vowel ; cf. thoccident, B. 3864 ; thorient, 
B. 3871. 

129. fadres, fathers, originators ; by bringing tidings from afar. 

130. debat, strife. Merchants, being great travellers, were expected 
to pick up good stories. 

131. were, should be. deso/at, destitute. 'The E.E. word is ivestP', 
' westi of alle gode theawes,' destitute of all good virtues ; O. Eng. 
Homilies, i. 285.'— M. 

132. Nere, for ne were, were it not. goon is, &>c., many a year ago, 
long since. 


The Tale of the Man of Lawe. 

A story, agreeing closely with The Man of Lawes Tale, is found in 
Book n. of Gower's Confessio Amantis, from which Tyrwhitt supposed 
that Chaucer borrowed it. But Gower's version seems to be later than 
Chaucer's, whilst Chaucer and Gower were both alike indebted to the 
version of the story in French prose (by Nicholas Trivet) in MS. 
Arundel 56, printed for the Chaucer Society in 1S72. In some places 
Chaucer agrees with this French version rather closely, but he makes 
variations and additions at pleasure. Cf. vol. iii. p. 409. 

The first ninety-eight lines of the preceding Prologue are written in 
couplets, in order to link the Tale to the others of the series ; but there 
is nothing to show which of the other tales it was intended to follow. 
Next follows a more special Prologue of thirty-five lines, in five stanzas 
of seven lines each ; so that the first line in the Tale is 1. 134 of Group 
B, the second of the fragments into which the Canterbury Tales 
are broken up, owing to the incomplete state in which Chaucer left 

134. Stirrie, Syria ; called Sarazine (Saracen-land) by N. Trivet. 

136. spycerye, grocery, &c., lit. spicery. The old name for a grocer 
was a spicer\ and spicery was a wide term. * It should be noted that 
the Ital. spezerie included a vast deal more than ginger and other 
"things hot i' the mouth." In one of Pegoletti's lists of spezerie we 
find drugs, dye-stuffs, metals, wax, cotton,' (S:c. — Note by Col. Yule in 
his ed. of Marco Polo ; on bk. i. c. i. 

143. Were it, whether it were. 

144. message, messenger, noi message ; see 1. 333, and the note. 

145. The final e in Rome is pronounced, as in 1. 142 ; but the words 
the emic are to be run together, forming but one syllable, ihende, ac- 
cording to Chaucer's usual practice ; cf. note to 1. 255. Indeed in 11. 423, 
965, it is actually so spelt ; just as, in 1. 150, we have ihexcellent, and in 
1. 151, thetnperoures. 

151. themperotires, the emperor's. Gower calls him Tiberius Con- 
stantine, who was Emperor (not of Rome, butj of the East, A. D. 578, 
and was succeeded, as in the story, by Maurice, A.D. 582. His capital 
was Constantinople, whither merchants from Syria could easily repair ; 
but the greater fame of Rome caused the substitution of the Western for 
the Eastern capital. 

156. God him see, God protect him. See note to C. 715. 

161. al Europe. In the margin of MSS. E. Hn. Cp. Pt. Ln. is written 
the note ' Europa est tercia pars mundi.' 

166. mi?-our, mirror. Such French words are frequently accented 
on the lasi syllable. Cf. mitiistr' in I. 168. 

171. han doon fraught, have caused to be freighted. All the MSS. 
\ia.\'Q fraught, noi fraughfe. In the Glossary to Specimens of English, 

I marked fraught as being the infinitive mood, as Dr. Stratmann 

* * * ^ 


supposes, though he notes the lack of the final e. I have now no doubt 
\\idXfrai4ght is nothing but the past participle, as in William of Palerne, 

1 27'^2 — 

' And feithlicheyra^/^/!/ ful of fine wines,' 

which is said of a ship. The use of this past participle after 2i perfect 
tense is a most remarkable idiom, but there is no doubt about its 
occurrence in the Clerkes Tale, Group E. 1098, where we find 'Hath 
doon yow kept^ where Tyrwhitt has altered kepi to kepe. On the other 
hand, Tyrwhitt actually notes the occurrence of ' Hath don ivroghV 
in Kn. Tale, 1055, (A. 1913), which he calls an irregularity. A better 
name for it is idiom. I find similar instances of it in another author 
of the same period, 

'Thai strak his hed of, and syne it 
Thai haf gert saltit in-til a kyt.' 

Barbour's Bruce, ed. Skeat, xviii. 167. 

I.e. they have caused it (to be) salted. And again in the same, bk. viii. 
1. 13, we have the expression He gert held, as if 'he caused to be 
held'; but it may mean 'he caused to incline.' Compare also the 
following : — 

'And thai sail let thame trumpit ill'; id. xix. 712. 

I.e. and they shall consider themselves as evilly deceived. 

In the Royal Wills, ed. Nichols, p. 278, we find:— 'wher I have 
beforn ordeyned and do mad [caused to be made] my tombe.' 

The infinitive appears to have been fraughten, though the earliest 
certain examples of this form seem to be those in Shakespeare, Cymb. 
i. I. 126, Temp. i. 2. 13. The proper form of the pp. \\2iS fraugJi ted 
(as in Marlowe, 2 Tamb. i. 2. 33), but the loss of final -ed in past 
participles of verbs of which the stem ends in / is common ; cf. set, 
put, &c. Hence this form fraught as a pp. in the present instance. 
It is a Scandinavian word, from Swtd. frakfa, 'Da.n.fragte. At a later 
period we find freight, the mod. E. form. The vowel-change is due 
to the fact that there was an intermediate iorm fret, borrowed from the 
French iormfret of the Scandinavian word. This form fret disturbed 
the vowel-sound, without wholly destroying the recollection of the 
original guttural gh, due to the Swed. k. For an example oi fret, 
we have only to consult the old black-letter editions of Chaucer 
printed in 1532 and 1561, which give us the present line in the form — 
'These marchantes han don fret her ships new.' 

185. ceriously, 'seriously,' i.e. with great minuteness of detail. 
Used by Fabyan, who says that 'to reherce ceryous/y' all the 
conquests of Henry V would fill a volume; Chron., ed. Ellis, p. 589. 
Skelton, in his Garland of Laurell, 1. 581, has : 'And seryously she 
shewyd me ther denominacyons'; on which Dyce remarks that it 
means sert'athn, and gi\es a clear example. It answers to the Low 
Latin seriose, used in two senses ; (i) seriously, gravely ; {2} minutely, 

LI. 185-228.] THE TALE OF THE MAN OF LAWE. 147 

fully. In the latter case it is perhaps to be referred to the Lat. series, 
not serins. A similar word, cereaily (Lat. seriatim), is found three 
times in the Romance of Partenay, ed. Skeat, with the sense oi in due 
order ; cf. Ceriatly and Ceryotus in the New E. Diet. 

In N. and Q. 7 S. xii. 183, I shewed that Lydgate has at least ieti 
examples of this use of the word in his Siege of Troye. In one instance 
it is spelt seryously (with j). 

190. This refers to the old belief in astrology and the casting of 
nativities. Cf. Prol. A. 414-418. Obser\-e that 11. 190-203 are not in 
the original, and were doubtless added in revision. This is why this 
sowdati in 1. 1S6 is so far separated from the repetition of the same 
words in 1. 204. 

197. Tyrwhitt shews that this stanza is imitated closely from some 
Latin lines, some of which are quoted in the margin of many MSS. of 
Chaucer. He quotes them at length from the Megacosmos of Bernardus 
Silvestris, a poet of the twelfth century (extant in MS. Bodley 1265). 
The lines are as follows, it being premised that those printed in italics 
•are cited in the margin of MSS. E. Hn. Cp. Pt. and Ln. : — 

' Praeiacet in stellis series, quam longior aetas 

Explicet et spatiis temporis ordo suis, 
Sceptra Phoronei, fratrtan discordia 7'Jiebis, 

Flaintna PJiaetJiojitis, Deucalionis ague. 
In stellis Codri paupertas, copia Croesi, 

Incestus Paridis, Hippolytique pudor. 
In stellis Prianii species, audacia Turtii, 

Sensus Ulixeus, Herculeusque tiigor. 
In stellis pugil est Pollux et nauita Typhis, 

Et Cicero rhetor et geometra Thales. 
In stellis lepidum dictat Maro, Milo figurat, 

Fulgurat in Latia nobilitate Nero. 
Astra notat Persis, ^gyptus parturit artes, 

Graecia docta legit, praelia Roma gerit.' 

See Bemardi Sylvestris Megacosmos, ed. C. S. Barach and J. Wrobel, 
Innsbruck, 1876, p. 16. The names Ector (Hector), &c., are too 
well known to require comment. The death of Turnus is told at the 
end of Vergil's i^neid. 

207, 208. Here have, forming part of the phrase mighte have grace, 
is unemphatic, whilst han (for haven) is emphatic, and signifies pos- 
session. See han again in 1. 241. 

211. Compare Squieres Tale, F. 202, 203, and the note thereon. 

224. Mahou?i, Mahomet. The French version does not mention 
Mahomet. This is an anachronism on Chaucer's part ; the Emperor 
Tiberius II. died A. D. 582, when Mahomet was but twelve years old. 

228. / prey yow holde, I pray you to hold. Here holde is the 
infinitive mood. The imperative plural would be holdeth ; see saveth, 
next line. 

L 2 


236. Matoneitrye, idolatry ; from the Mid. E. matimet, an idol, 
corrupted from Mahomet. The confusion introduced by using the 
word Mahomet for an idol may partly account for the anachronism in 
1. 224. The Mahometans were falsely supposed by our forefathers to 
be idolaters. 

242. Jioot, equivalent to m ivoot, know not. 

248. gret-e forms the fourth foot in the line. If we read gret, the 
line is left imperfect at the caesura ; and we should have to scan it with 
a medial pause, as thus : — 

That them | perour || —of | his grdt [ noblesse || 

Line 621 below may be read in a similar manner: — 

But nd I thelees || — ther | was grdet | moorning || 

253. ' So, when Ethelbert married Bertha, daughter of the Christian 
King Charibert, she brought with her, to the court of her husband, 
a Gallican bishop named Leudhard, who was permitted to celebrate 
mass in the ancient British Church of St. Martin, at Canterbury.' — 
Note in Bell's Chaucer. 

255. ynoive, being plural, takes a final e ; we then read tJCettde, as 
explained in note to 1. 145. The pi. ino'^he occurs in the Ormulum. 

263. al/e and some, collectively and individually ; one and all. See 
Cler. Tale, E. 941, &c. 

273-87. Not in the original ; perhaps added in revision. 

277. The word al/e, being plural, is dissyllabic. Thing is often 
a plural form, being an A. S. neuter noun. The words over, ever, 
never are, in Chaucer, generally monosyllables, or nearly so ; just as 
o'er, e'er, ne'er are treated as monosyllables by our poets in general. 
Hence the scansion is—' Ov'r al | Ic thing \ ,' Sac. 

289. The word a/ is inserted from the Cambridge MS. ; all the 
other six MSS. omit it, which makes the passage one of extreme 
difficulty. Tyrwhitt reads * Or Ylion brent, or Thebes the citee.' Of 
course he means bretide, past tense, not brent, the past participle; and 
his conjecture amounts to inserting or before Thebes. It is better to 
insert at, as in MS. Cm. ; see Oilman's edition. The sense is — 'When 
Pyrrhus broke the wall, before Ilium burnt, (nor) at the city of Thebes, 
nor at Rome,' &c. Nat (1. 290) = A''^ at, as in HI. Yliort, in medieval 
romance, meant 'the citadel' of Troy; see my note to 1. 936 of the 
Legend of Good Women. Tyrwhitt well observes that ' Thebes the 
citee' is a French phrase. He quotes 'dedans Renes Ja cite,' 
Froissart, v. i. c. 225. 

295-315. Not in the original, and clearly a later addition. They 
include an allusion to Boethius (see next note). 

295. In the margin of the Ellesmere MS. is written— ' Vnde Ptholo- 
meus, libro i. cap. 8. Primi motus celi duo sunt, quorum vnus est qui 
mouet totum semper ab Oriente in Occidentem vno modo super orbes, 
&c. Item alitervero motus est qui mouet orbem stellarum currencium 


contra motum primum, videlicet, ab Occidente in Orientem super alios 
duos polos.' The old astronomy imagined nine spheres revolving 
round the central stationary earth ; of the seven innermost, each 
carried with it one of the seven planets, viz. the ]\Ioon, Venus, 
Mercury, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn ; the eighth sphere, that 
of the fixed stars, had a slow motion from west to east, round 
the axis of the zodiac (super alios duos polos), to account for the 
precession of the equinoxes ; whilst the ninth or outermost sphere, 
called th& primum mobile, or the sphere of first motion, had a diurnal 
revolution from east to west, carr^-ing everything with it. This exactly 
corresponds with Chaucer's language. He addresses the outermost 
sphere ox primian mobile (which is the 7ii]ith if reckoning from within, 
but \\i<e. first from without), and accuses it of carrying with it everything 
in its irresistible westward motion ; a motion contrary to that of the 
'natural' motion, viz. that in which the sun advances along the signs 
of the zodiac. The result was that the evil influence of the planet 
Mars prevented the marriage. It is clear that Chaucer was thinking 
of certain passages in Boethius, as will appear from consulting his 
own translation of Boethius, ed. Morris, pp. 21, 22, 106, and no. 
I quote a few lines to shew this : — 

'O \o\x maker of \c whele ))at bere]) \& sterres, whiche J)at art 
fastned to \\ perdurable chaycre, and turnest ^e heuene \s\\ a 
rauyssyng stueighe, and constreinest })e sterres to suffren \\ lawe ' ; 
pp. 21, 22. 

'|)e regioun of j)e fire J)at eschaufi)) by ])e swikt. moeuyng o/pe firma- 
ment; p. no. 

The original is — 

* O stelliferi conditor orbis 
Qui perpetuo nixus solio 
Rapidum caelum turbine uersas, 
Legemque pati sidera cogis'; 

Boeth. Cons. Phil. lib. i. met. 5. 

' Quique agili motu calet aetheris' ; id. lib. iv. met. i. 

(See the same passages in vol. ii. pp. 16, 94). 

To the original nine spheres, as above, was afterwards added a tenth 
or cr^'stalline sphere ; see the description in the Complaint of Scotland, 
ed. Murray (E. E. T. S.), pp. 47, 48. For the figure, see fig. 10 on 
Plate v., in my edition of Chaucer's Astrolabe (in vol. iii.). 
Compare also the following passage : — 

'The earth, in roundness of a perfect ball, 
Which as a point but of this mighty all 
Wise Nature fixed, that permanent doth stay, 
Wheras the spheres by a diurnal sway 
Of the first Mover carried are about.' 

Drayton : The Man in the Moon. 

299. crowding, pushing. This is still a familiar word in East 


Anglia. Forby, in his Glossary of the East Anglian Dialect, says — 
' Crowd, V. to push, shove, or press close. To the word, in its conwion 
acceptation, nianber seems necessary. With us, one individual can 
crowd another.' To crowd a wheelbarrow means to push it. The 
expression ' crod in a barwe,' i.e. wheeled or pushed along in a wheel- 
barrow, occurs in the Paston Letters, a.d. 1477, ed. Gairdncr, iii. 215. 

302. A planet is said to ascend directly, when in a direct sign ; but 
tortuously, when in a tortuous sign. The tortuous signs are those 
which ascend most obliquely to the horizon, viz. the signs from 
Capricomus to Gemini inclusive. Chaucer tells us this himself \ see 
his Treatise on the Astrolabe, part ii. sect. 28, in vol. iii. The most 
'tortuous 'of these are the two middle ones, Pisces and Aries. Of 
these two, Aries is called the mansion of Mars, and we may therefore 
suppose the ascending sign to be Aries, the lord of which (Mars) is 
said to have fallen 'from his angle into the darkest house.' The 
words * angle ' and ' house ' are used technically. The whole zodiacal 
circle was divided into twelve equal parts, or ' houses.' Of these, four 
(beginning from the cardinal points) were termed ' angles,' four others 
(next following them) 'succedents,' and the rest 'cadents.' It appears 
that Mars was not then situate in an 'angle,' but in his 'darkest (i.e. 
darker) house.' Mars had two houses, Aries and Scorpio. The latter 
is here meant ; Aries being the ascendent sign, Scorpio was below 
the horizon, and beyond the western ' angle.' 

Now Scorpio was ' called the house of death, and of trauaile, of 
harm, and of domage, of strife, of battaile, of guilefulnesse and falsnesse, 
and of wit'; Batman upon Bartholom^, lib. viii. c. 17. We may 
represent the position of Mars by the following table, where East 
represents the ascending sign, West the descending sign ; and A., S., 
and C. stand for * angle,' * succedent,' and ' cadent house ' respectively. 

East. — Aries. Taurus. Gemini. Cancer. Leo. \'irgo. 
I. A. 2. S. 3. C. 4. A. 5. S. 6. C. 

West. — Libra. Scorpio. Sagittarius. Capricomus. Aquarius. Pisces. 
7. A. 8. S. 9. C. 10. A. U.S. 12. C. 

Again, the ' darkest house ' was sometimes considered to be the 
eighth ; though authorities varied. This again points to Scorpio. 

' Nulla diuisio circuli tarn pessima, tamque crudelis in omnibus, 
quam octaua est.' — Aphorismi Astrologi Ludovici de Rigiis ; sect. 35. 
I may also note here, that in Lydgate's Siege of Troy, ed. 1555, 
fol. Y 4, there is a long passage on the evil effects of Mars in the 
' house ' of Scorpio. 

305. The meaning oi Aiazir has long remained undiscovered. But 
by the kind help of Mr. Bensly, one of the sub-librarians of the Cam- 
bridge University Library, I am enabled to explain it. Atasir or 
atacir is the Spanish spelling of the Arabic al-tasir, influence, given 
at p. 351 of Richardson's Pers. Diet., ed. 1829. It is a noun derived 
from asara, a verb of the second conjugation, meaning to leave a mark 


on, from the substantive asar, a mark ; the latter substantive is given 
at p. 20 of the same work. Its use in astrology is commented upon by 
Dory, who gives it in the form aiacir, in his Glossaire des Mots 
Espagnols derive's de I'Arabique, p. 207. It signifies the infiuence of 
a star or planet upon other stars, or upon the fortunes of men. In the 
present case it is clearly used in a bad sense ; we may therefore 
translate it by 'evil influence,' i.e. the influence of Mars in the 
house of Scorpio. On this common deterioration in the meaning of 
words, see Trench, Study of Words, p. 52. The word craft, for 
example, is a very similar instance ; it originally meant skill, and 
hence, a trade, and we find star-craft used in particular to signify the 
science of astronomy. 

307. ' Thou art in conjunction in an unfavourable position ; from 
the position in which thou wast favourably placed thou art moved 
away.' This I take to mean that the Moon (as well as Mars) was in 
Scorpio ; hence their conjunction. But Scorpio was called the Moon's 
depressiofi^ha'mg the sign in which her influence was least favourable : 
she was therefore ' not well received,' i. e., not supported by a lucky 
planet, or by a planet in a lucky position, lueyved, pushed aside. 

312. ' Is there no choice as to when to fix the voyage .'" The favour- 
able moment for commencing a voyage was one of the points on which 
it was considered desirable to have an astrologer's opinion. Travelling, 
at that time, was a serious matter. Yet this was only one of the many 
undertakings which required, as was thought, to be begun at a favour- 
able moment. Whole books were written on ' elections./ i.e. favourable 
times for commencing operations of all kinds. Chaucer was thinking, 
in particular, of the following passage, which is written in the margins 
of the Ellesmere and Hengwrt MSS. : ' Omnes concordati sunt quod 
elecciones sint debiles nisi in diuitibus : habent enim isti, licet debili- 
tentur eorum elecciones, radicem, i. {id t'j-/] natiuitates eorum, que 
confortat omnem planetam debilem in itinere.' The sense of which 
is — ' For all are agreed, that " elections " are weak, except in the case 
of the rich ; for these, although their elections be weakened, have 
a "root" of their own, that is to say, their nativities (cr horoscopes) ; 
which root strengthens every planet that is of weak influence with 
respect to a journey.' This is extracted, says Tyrwhitt, from a Liber 
Electionum by a certain Zael ; see MS. Karl. 80; MS. Bodley 1648. 
This is a very fair example of the jargon to be found in old books on 
astrology. The old astrologers used to alter their predictions almost 
at pleasure, by stating that their results depended on several causes, 
which partly counteracted one another ; an arrangement of which the 
convenience is obvious. Thus, if the aspect of the planets at the time 
inquired about appeared to be adverse to a journey, it might still be 
the case (they said) that such evil aspect might be overcome by the 
fortunate aspect of the inquirer's horoscope ; or, conversely, an ill 
aspect in the horoscope could be counteracted by a fit election of 
a time for action. A rich man would probably be fitted with a fortunate 


horoscope, or else why should he buy one ? Such horoscope depended 
on the aspect of the heavens at the time of birth or 'nativity,' and, in 
particular, upon the ' ascendent ' at that time ; i. e. upon the planets 
lying nearest to the point of the zodiac which happened, at that 
moment, to be nscendittg, i. e. just appearing above the horizon. So 
Chaucer, in his Treatise on the Astrolabe, pt. ii. § 4, (vol. iii. 191), 
explains the matter, saying — 'The assendent sothly, as wel in alle 
nativitez as in questiouns and elecciouns oftymes, is a thing which that 
thise Astrologiens gretly observen ' ; &;c. The curious reader may 
find much more to the same effect in the same Treatise, with directions 
to 'make roots' in pt. ii. § 44. 

The curious may further consult the Epitome Astrologiae of Johannes 
Hispalensis. The whole of Book iv. of that work is ' De Electionibus,' 
and the title of cap. xv. is ' Pro Itinere.' 

Lydgate, in his Siege of Thebes, just at the beginning, describes the 
astronomers as casting the horoscope of the infant CEdipus. They 
were expected < ^^ ^^^^ ^ judgement, 

The roote i-take at the ascendent. 
Truly sought out, by minute and degre, 
The selfe houre of his natiuite, 
Not forj^et the heauenly mansions 
Clerely searched by smale fraccions,' &c. 

To take a different example, Ashmole, in his Theatrum Chemicum, 
1652, says in a note on p. 450 — ' Generally in all Elections the Efificacy 
of the Starrs are {sic) used, as it were by a certaine application made 
thereof to those unformed Natures that are to be wrought upon ; 
whereby to further the working thereof, and make them more available 
to our purpose. . . . And by such Elections as good use may be made 
of the Celestiall influences, as a Physitian doth of the variety of herbes. 
. . . But Nativities are the Radices of Elections, and therefore we 
ought chiefly to looke backe upon them as the principal Root and 
Foundation of all Operations ; and next to them the quality of the 
Thing we intend to fit must be respected, so that, by an apt position 
of Heaven, and fortifying the Planets and Houses in the Nativity of 
the Operator, and making them agree with the thing signified, the 
impression made by that influence will abundantly augment the 
Operation,' &c. ; with much more to the same effect. Several 
passages in Norton's Ordinall, printed in the same volume (see pp. 60, 
100), shew clearly what is meant by Chaucer in his Prologue, 11. 415-7. 
The Doctor could 'fortune the ascendent of his images,' by choosing 
a favourable moment for the making of charms in the form of images, 
when a suitable planet was in the ascendent. Cf. Troil. ii. 74. 

314. 7-oie is the astrological term for the epoch from which to 
reckon. The exact moment of a nativity being known, the astrologers 
were supposed to be able to calculate everything else. See the last note. 

332. Alkaron, the Koran ; al is the Arabic article. 


333. Here Makomete is used instead of Mahoun (I. 224). See 
Washington Irving's Life of Mahomet. 

message, messenger. This is a correct form, according to the usages 
of Middle English ; cf. 1. 144. In like manner, we i\r\^ prison used to 
mean a prisoner, which is often puzzling at first sight. 

340. ' Because we denied Mahomet, our (object of) belief.' 

360. 'O serpent under the form of woman, like that Serpent that is 
bound in hell.' The allusion here is not a little curious. It clearly 
refers to the old belief that the serpent who tempted Eve appeared 
to her with a woman's head, and it is sometimes so represented. 
I observed it, for instance, in the chapter-house of Salisbury Cathedral ; 
and see the woodcut at p. 73 of Wright's History of Caricature and 
Grotesque in Art. In Peter Comestor's Historia Libri Genesis, we 
read of Satan — * Elegit etiam quoddam genus serpentis (vt ait Beda) 
virgineum vulttan habens.' In the alliterative Troy Book, ed. Panton 
and Donaldson, p. 144, the Tempter is called Lyuyaton (i.e. Leviathan}, 
and it is said of him that he 

'Hade a face vne fourmet as a fre niaydon''; 1. 4451. 

And, again, in Piers the Plowman, B. xviii. 355, Satan is compared to 
a Musarde [lizard] with a lady insage.' In the Ancren Riwle, p. 207, 
we are gravely informed that a scorpion is a kind of serpent that 
has a face somewhat like that of a woman, and puts on a pleasant 
countenance. To remember this gives peculiar force to 11. 370, 371. 
See also note to 1. 404. 

367. knowestow is a trisyllable ; and the olde is to be read tJioldc. 
But in 1. 371, the word Makestow, being differently placed in the line, 
is to be read with the e slurred over, as a dissyllable. 

380. mosie, might. It is not always used like the modern vmst. 

401. See Lucan's Pharsalia, iii. 79 — * Perdidit o qualem uincendo 
plura triumphum ! ' But Chaucer's reference, evidently made at 
random, is unlucky. Lucan laments that he had no triumph to 

404. The line is deficient at the beginning, the word But standing 
by itself as a foot. So also in A. 294, G. 341, (S:c. See Ellis's Early 
English Pronunciation, pp. 333, 649. (This peculiarity was pointed out 
by me in 1866, in the Aldine edition of Chaucer, i. 174.) For the sense 
of scorpioun, see the reference to the Ancren Riwle, in note to 1. 360, 
and compare the following extracts. ' Thes is the scorpioun, thet 
maketh uayr mid the heauede, and enuenymeth mid the tayle' ; Ayenbite 
of Inwyt, ed. Morris, p. 62. ' The scorpion, the whiche enoynteth with 
his tongue, and prjxketh sore with his taylle '; Caxton, Fables of 
iEsop ; Lib. iv. fable 3. Chaucer repeats the idea, somewhat more 
fully, in the Marchaunts Tale, E. 2058-2060. So also this wikked gost 
means this Evil Spirit, this Tempter. 

421. Pronounce ever rapidly, and accent snccessour on the first 
syllable. In the margin of MSS. E. Hn. Pt. and Cp. is the following 


note : * Nota, de inopinato dolore. Semper mundane leticie tristicia 
repentina succedit. Mundana igitur felicitas multis amaritudinibus est 
respersa. Extrema gaudii luctus occupat. Audi ergo salubre con- 
silium ; in diebonorum ne immemor sis malorum.' This is one of the 
passages from Innocent's treatise de Contemptu Mundi, of which I have 
already spoken in the note to B. 99-121 above (p. 140). Lib. i. c. 23 
has the heading — ' De inopinato dolore.' It begins : — ' Semper enim 
mundanae letitiae tristitia repentina succedit. Et quod incipit a gaudio, 
desinit in moerore. Mundana quippe felicitas multis amaritudinibus 
est respersa. Noverat hoc qui dixerat : " Risus dolore miscebitur, et 
extrema gaudii luctus occupat." . . . Attende salubrem consilium : " In 
die bonorum, non immemor sis malorum." ' 

This passage is mostly made up of scraps taken from different authors. 
I find in Boethius, De Consolatione Philosophiae. lib. ii. pr. 4 — ' Ouam 
multis amaritudinibus humanae felicitatis dulcedo respersa est'; which 
Chaucer translates by— 'The swetnesse of mannes wclefulnesse is 
spray ned ivith iiiany bitemesses^ \ see vol. ii. p. 34; and the same 
expression is repeated here, in 1. 422. Gower quotes the same passage 
from Boethius in the prologue to his Confessio Amantis. The next 
sentence is from Prov. xiv. 13 — ' Risus dolore miscebitur, et extrema 
gaudii luctus occupat.' The last clause (see 11. 426, 427) is from Ecclesi- 
asticus, xi. 27 (in the Vulgate version). Cf. Troil. iv. 836. 

438. Compare Trivet's French prose version : — ' Dount ele fist 
estorier vne neef de vitaile, de payn quest apele bisquit, & de peis, & 
de feues, de sucre, & de meel, & de vyn, pur sustenaunce de la vie de 
la pucele pur treis aunx ; e en cele neef fit mettre la richesse & le 
tresour que lempire Tiberie auoit maunde oue la pucele Constaunce, 
sa fiUe ; e en cele neef fist la soudane mettre la pucele saunz sigle, & 
sauntz neuiroun, & sauntz chescune maner de eide de homme.' I. e. ' Then 
she caused a ship to be stored with victuals, with bread that is called 
biscuit, with peas, beans, sugar, honey, and wine, to sustain the 
maiden's life for three years. And in this ship she caused to be placed 
the riches and treasure which the Emperor Tiberius had sent with 
the maid Constance his daughter ; and in this ship the Sultaness 
caused the maiden to be put, without sail or oar, or any kind of 
human aid.' 

foot-hot, hastily. It occurs in Gower, ed. Pauli, ii. 114; in The 
Romaunt of the Rose, 1. 3827 : Octovian, 1224, in Weber's Met. Rom. 
iii. 208 ; Sevyn Sages, 843, in the same, iii. 34 ; Richard Coer de Lion, 
1798, 2185, in the same, ii. 71, 86 ; and in Barbour's Bruce, iii. 418, xiii. 
454. Compare the term hot-trod, explained by Sir W. Scott to mean 
the pursuit of marauders with bloodhounds : see note 3 H to the Lay 
of the Last Minstrel. We also find hot fot, i. e. immediately, in the 
Debate of the Body and the Soul, 1. 481. It is a translation of the 
O. F. phrase chalt pas, immediately, examples of which are given by 

449-62. Not in the original ; perhaps added in revision. 



451-62. Compare these lines with verses 3 and 5 of the hymn 

' Lustra sex qui iam peregit ' in the office of Lauds from Passion 

Sunday to Wednesday in Holy Week inclusive, in the Roman breviar)'. 

This hymn was written by Venantius Fortunatus ; see Leyser's 

collection, p. 168. 

Crux fidelis, inter omnes 

Arbor una nobilis : 

Silua talem nulla profert 

Fronde, flore, germine : 

Duke ferrum, dulcc lignum, 

Dulce pondus sustinent 

Sola digna tu fuisti 
Ferre mundi uictimam ; 
Atque portum praeparare, 
Area mundo naufrago, 
Ouam sacer cruor perunxit, 
Fusus Agni corpore-' 

See the translation in Hymns Ancient and Modern, No. 97, part 2 (new 
edition), beginning — 'Now the thirty years accomplished.' 

We come still nearer to the original of Chaucer's lines when we 
consider the form of prayer quoted in the Ancren Riwle, p. 34, which 
is there given as follows : — ' Salue crux sancta, arbor digna, quae sola 
fuisti digna portare Regem celorum et Dominum . . . . O crux gloriosa ! 
o crux adoranda ! o lignum preciosum, et admirabile signum, per quod 
et diabolus est victus, et mundus Christi sanguine redemptus.' 

460. ////// and here, him and her, i. e. man and woman ; as in Piers 
the Plowman, A. Pass. i. 1. 100. The allusion is to the supposed power 
of the cross over evil spirits. See The Legends of the Holy Rood, ed. 
Morris ; especially the story of the Invention of the Cross by St. Helen, 
p. 160 — ' And anone, as he had made the [sign of the] crosse, \& grete 
multitude of deuylles vanyshed awaye'; or, in the Latin original, 
' statimque ut edidit signum crucis, omnis ilia daemonum multitudo 
euanuit '; Aurea Legenda, ed. Grasse, 2nd ed. p. 311. Cf. Piers Plow- 
man, B. xviii. 429-431. 

461. The reading of this line is certain, and must not be altered. 
But it is impossible io parse the line without at once noticing that there 
is some difficulty in the construction. The best solution is obtained 
by taking which in the sense of ivhom. A familiar example of this use 
of which for who occurs in the Lord's Prayer. See also Abbott's 
Shakespearian Grammar, Sect. 265. The construction is as follows — 
* O viccorious tree, protection of true people, that alone wast worthy to 
bear the King of Heaven with His new wounds — the White Lamb that 
was hurt with the spear — O expeller of fiends out of both man and 
woman, on whom (i.e. the men and women on whom) thine arms faith- 
fully spread out,' &c. Limes means the arms of the cross, spread 
before a person to protect him. 


464. see of Grece^ here put for the Mediterranean Sea. 
46.5. Marrok, Morocco ; alluding to the Strait of Gibraltar ; cf. 1. 947. 
So also in Barbour's Bruce, iii. 688. 
470-504. Not in the French text; perhaps added in revision. 

474. The?; where ; as usual, knai'e, servant. 

475. * Was eaten by the lion ere he could escape.' Cf 1. 437. 

480. The word clcrkes refers to Boethius. This passage is due to 
Boeth. bk. iv. pr. 6. 11 4- 117, and 152-4; see vol. ii. pp. 117, 118. 

491. See Revelation vii. 1-3. 

497. Here (if iliat be omitted) As seems to form a foot by itself, which 
gives but a poor line. See note to 1. 404. 

500. Alluding to St. Mary the Egyptian {Maria Egiptiaca), who 
according to the legend, after a youth spent in debauchery, lived 
entirely alone for the last forty-seven years of her life in the wilder- 
ness beyond the Jordan. She lived in the fifth century. Her day is 
April 9. See Mrs. Jameson's Sacred and Legendary Art ; Rutebuef 
ed. Jubinal, ii. 106-150 ; Maundeville's Travels, ed. Halliwell, p. 96; 
Aurea Legenda, ed. Grasse, cap. Ivi. She was often confused with 
St. Mary ISIagdalen. 

508. Northiimberlond, the district, not the county. Yorkshire is, in 
fact, meant, as the P'rench version expressly mentions the Humber. 

510. of al a iyde, for the whole of an hour. 

512. the constable ; named Eida by Trivet and Gower. 

519. Trivet says that she answered Elda in his own language, 'en 
sessoneys,' in Saxon, for she had learnt many languages in her youth. 

525. The word dcyc seems to have had two pronunciations ; in 1. 644 
it is dye, with a different rime. In fact, Mr. Cromie's *Ryme-Index' 
to Chaucer proves the point. On the one hand, deye rimes to atueye, 
disobeye, d?-eye, preye, seye, tweye, weye ; and on the other, dye 
rimes to av out rye, btgamye, compaigiiye, Emelye, genterye, lye, 
nialadye, &c. So also, /a'gh appears both as hey and hy. 

527. forgat hir ininde, lost her memory. 

531. The final e in plese is preserved from elision by the caesural 
pause. Or, we may r&didi piesen ; yet the MSS. have plese. 

533. Hermengild; spelt Hermyngild in Trivet ; answering to A. S. 
£"<?rw^;?§-//df (Lappenberg, Hist. England, i. 285). Note that St. Her- 
mengild was martyred just at this very time, Apr. 13, 846. 

543. plages, regions ; we even find the word in Marlowe's Tambur- 
laine, pt. i. act iv. sc. 4, and pt. ii. act i. sc. i. The latter passage is — 
* From Scythia to the oriental plage Of India.' 

552. * Eyes of his mind.' Jean de Meun has the expression les yc.v 
de cuer, the eyes of the heart ; see his Testament, 11. 1412, 1683. 

hid,. Alia, i.e. /Ella, king of Northumberland, A. D. 560-567; the 
same whose name Gregory (afterwards Pope) turned, by a pun, into 
Alleluia, according to the version of the celebrated story about 
Gregory and the English slaves, as given in Beda, Eccl. Hist. 
b. ii. c. I. 

LI. 464-666.] THE TALE OF THE MAN OF LAWE. 157 

584. quyte her whyle, repay her time ; i.e. her pains, trouble ; as 
when we say ' it is worth while.' Wile is nol intended. 

585. ' The plot of the knight against Constance, and also her sub- 
sequent adventure with the steward, are both to be found, with some 
variations, in a story in the Gesta Romanorum, ch. loi ; MS. Karl. 
2270. Occleve has versified the whole story'; Tyrwhitt. See vol. 
iii. p. 410, for further information. Compare the conduct of lachimo, 
in Cymbeline. 

609. See Troil. iv. 357. 

620. Berth hir on hond, affirms falsely ; lit. bears her in hand. 
Chaucer uses the phrase ' to here in hond ' with the sense of false 
affirmation, sometimes with the idea of accusing falsely, as here and in 
the Wyf of Bathes Prologue, D. 393 ; and sometimes with that of per- 
suading falsely, D. 232, 380. In Shakespeare the sense is rather — 'to 
keep in expectation, to amuse with false pretences'; Nares's Glossary'. 
Barbour uses it in the more general sense of 'to affirm,' or 'to make 
a statement,' whether falsely or truly. In Dyce's Skelton, i. 237, occurs 
the line — ' They bare me in hande that I was a spye '; which Dyce 
explains by 'they accused me, laid to my charge that,' &c. He refers 
us to Palsgrave, who has some curious examples of it. E. g., at 
p. 450: — 'Ibeai'e in hande, I threp upon a man that he hath done 
a dede or make hym beleve so, le fais occroyre ... I beare hym in 
hande he was wode, le lay niels sus la raijfe, or ie liiy nietz siis 
qtiil csioyt enrage. What crime or yuell mayest thou beare me in 
hande of; &c. So also : ' Many be borne an hande of a faute, and 
punysshed therfore, that were neuer gylty ; Plerique facinoris insitmi- 
lantur^ &c. ; Hormanni Vulgaria, sig. m. ii. ed. 1530. In Skelton's 
Why Come Ye Nat to Courte, 1. 449, bereih on hand simply means 
' persuades.' 

631-58. Not in the original. A later insertion, of much beauty. 

634. * And bound Satan ; and he still lies where he (then) lay.' In 
the Apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, Christ descends into hell, and 
(according to some versions) binds him with chains ; see Piers Plow- 
man, B. xviii. 401. 

639. Siisati7ie ; see the story of Susannah, in the Apocrypha. 

641. The Virgin's mother is called Anna in the Apocryphal Gospel of 
James. Her day is July 26. See Aurea Legenda, ed. Grasse, cap. 
cxxxi ; Cowper's Apociyphal Gospels, p. 4. 

647. 'Where that he gat (could get) for himself no favour.' 

660. ' For pitee renneth sone in gentil herte ' ; Knightes Tale, 
A. 1 761. And see note to Sq. Tale, F. 479. 

664. us avyse, deliberate with ourselves, consider the matter again. 
Compare the law-phrase Le roi s'avisera, by which the king refuses 
assent to a measure proposed. ' We will consider whom to appoint as 

666. I.e. a copy of the Gospels in Welsh or British, called in the 
French prose version ' liure des Ewangeiles.' Agreements were some- 


times written on the fly-leaves of copies of the Gospels, as may be seen 
in two copies of the A. S. version of them. 

669. A very similar miracle is recorded in the old alliterative romance 
of Joseph of Arimathea, 1. 362. The French version has : — 'a peine 
auoit fini la parole, qe vne mayn close, com poyn de homme, apparut 
deuant Elda et quant questoient en presence, etferri tiel coup enle haterel 
le feloun, que ambedeus lez eus lui enuolerent de la teste, & les dentz hors 
de la bouche ; & le feloun chai abatu a la terre ; et a ceo dist vne voiz 
en le oyance de touz : Aduersus filiammatrisecclesieponebasscandalum; 
hec fecisti, et tacui.' I. e. ' Scarcely had he ended the word, when 
a closed hand, like a man's fist, appeared before Elda and all who were in 
the presence, and smote such a blow on the nape of the felon's neck that 
both his eyes flew out of his head, and the teeth out of his mouth ; and 
the felon fell smitten down to the earth ; and thereupon a voice said in 
the hearing of all, "Against the daughter of Mother Church thou wast 
laying a scandal ; this hast thou done, and I held my peace." ' The 
reading taciii suggests that, in 1. 676, the word holde should rather be 
held\ but the MSS. do not recognise this reading. 

697. /;/r ///£'//^///«?, it seemed to her ; //wz/'_^/;/^ is here impersonal ; so 
in 1. 699. The French text adds that Domulde (Donegild) was, more- 
over, jealous of hearing the praises of Constance's beauty. 

701. Me list 7iat, it pleases me not, I do not wish to. He does not 
wish to give every detail. In this matter Chaucer is often very judicious ; 
Gower and others often give the more unimportant matters as fully as 
the rest. Cf 1. 706; and see Squyeres Tale, F. 401. 

703. W/iai, why. Cf. Squyeres Tale, F. 283, 298. 

716. Trivet says — ' Puis a vn demy aan passe, vint nouele al Roy que 
les gentz de Albania, qe sountz les Escotz, furent passes lour boundes 
et guerrirent les terres le Roy. Dount par comun counseil, le Roi 
assembla son ost de rebouter ses enemis. Et auant son departir vers 
Escoce, baila la Reine Constaunce sa femme en la garde Elda, le 
Conestable du chastel, et a Lucius, leuesqe de Bangor ; si lour chargea 
que quant ele fut deliueres denlaunt, qui lui feisoient hastiuement sauoir 
la nouele '; i. e. ' Then, after half-a-year, news came to the king that 
the people of Albania, who are the Scots, had passed their bounds, and 
warred on the king's lands. Then by common counsel the king 
gathered his host to rebut his foes. And before his departure towards 
Scotland, he committed Queen Constance his wife to the keeping of 
Elda, the constable of the castle, and of Lucius, bishop of Bangor, and 
charged them that when she was delivered, they should hastily let 
him know the news.' 

722. knave child, male child ; as in Clerkes Tale, E. 444. 

723. at thefontstoon, i. e. at his baptism ; French text — ' al baptisme 
fu noma Moris.' 

729. to doon his avantage, to suit his. convenience. He hoped, by 
going only a little out of his way, to tell Donegild the news also, 
and to receive a reward for doing so. Trivet says that the old 

LI. 669-754.] THE TALE OF THE MAN OF LAWE. 159 

Queen was then at Knaresborough, situated 'between England and 
Scotland, as in an intermediate place.* Its exact site is less than 
seventeen miles west of York. Donegild pretends to be very pleased 
at the news, and gives the man a rich present. 

736. lettres ; so in all seven MSS. ; Tyrwhitt reads lettre. But it is 
right as it is. Lettres is sometimes used, like Lat. literae, in a singular 
sense, and the French text has ' les lettres.' Examples occur in Piers 
Plowman, B. ix. 38 ; Bruce, ii. 80. See 1. 744, and note to 1. 747. 

738. If ye wol aught, if you wish (to say) anything. 

740, Donegild is dissyllabic here, as in 1. 695, but in 1. 805 it appears 
to have three syllables. Chaucer constantly alters proper names so as 
to suit his metre. 

74.3. sadly, steadily, with the idea of long continuance. 

747. lettre ; here the singular form is used, but it is a matter of 

indifiference. Exactly the same variation occurs in Barbour's Bruce, 

ii. 80:— 

'And, among othir, lettres ar gayn 

To the byschop off Androwis towne, 

That tauld how slayn wes that baroun. 

The lettir tauld hym all the deid,' &c. 

This circumstance, of exchanging the messenger's letters for forged ones, 
is found in Matthew Paris's account of the Life of Offa the first ; ed. 
Wats, pp. 965-968. 

748. direct, directed, addressed ; French text ' maundez.' 
75L Pronounce horrible as in French. 

752. The last word in this line should rather be nas (= was not), 
as has kindly been pointed out to me; though the seven MSS. and 
the old editions all have was. By this alteration we should secure 
a true rime. 

754. elf; French text — 'ele fumalueise espirit en fourme de femme,' 
she was an evil spirit in form of woman. Elf'xs the A. S. celf Icel. dlfr, 
G. alp and elfs; Shakespeare writes ouphes for elves. 'The Edda 
distinguishes between Ljosdlfar, the elves of light, and Dokkdlfar, 
elves of darkness ; the latter are not elsewhere mentioned either in 

modem fairy tales or in old writers In the Alvism.41, elves and 

dwarfs are clearly distinguished as different. The abode of the elves 
in the Edda is A'Ifheimar, fairy land, and their king the god Frey, the 
god of light. In the fairy tales the Elves haunt the hills ; hence their 
name Huldufdlk, hidden people; respecting their origin, life, and 
customs, see I'slenzkar ))j6^sogur, i. i. In old writers the Elves are 
rarely mentioned ; but that the same tales were told as at present is 
clear'; note on the word dlfr, in Cleasby and Vigfusson's Icelandic 
Dictionarj'. See also Keightley's Fairy Mythology, and Brand's 
Popular Antiquities. The word is here used in a bad sense, and is 
nearly equivalent to witch. In the Prompt. Parv. we find—' Fife, 
spryte, Laviia ' ; and Mr. Way notes that these elves were often sup- 
posed to bewitch children, and to use them cruelly. 


767. Pronounce dgredble nearly as in French, and with an accent on 
the first and third syllables. 

769. take, handed over, delivered. Take often means to give or 
hand over in Middle English : very seldom to convey or bring. 

771. In the margin of MSS. E. Hn. Cp. and Pt. is written— ' Quid 
turpius cbrioso, cui fetor in ore, tremor in corpore, qui promit stulta, 
prodit occulta, cuius mens alienatur, facies transformatur ? Nullum 
enim latet secretum ubi regnat ebrietas.' This is obviously the 
original of the stanza, 11. 771-777 ; cf. note to B. 99 above. There is 
nothing answering to it in Trivet, but it is to be found in Pope 
Innocent's treatise De Contemptu Mundi, lib. ii. c. ig—De ebrietate. 
Migne's edition has * promittit multa ' for 'promit stulta.' The last 
clause is quoted from Prov. xxxi. 4 in the Vulgate version ; our 
English versions omit it. See B. 2384. 

778. * O Donegild, I have no language fit to tell,' (S:c. 

782. mannish, man-like, i. e. harsh and cruel, not mild and gentle 
like a woman. But Chaucer is not satisfied with the epithet, and says he 
ought rather to call her ' fiend-like.' Perhaps it is worth while to say 
that in Gower's Conf. Amant., lib. vi., where Pauli (iii. 52) has ' Most 
liche to vianncs creature,' the older edition by Chalmers has the form 
mannish. Lines 778-84 are not in the original. 

789. 'He stowed away plenty (of wine) under his girdle,' i.e. drank 
his fill. 

794. Pronounce constdbP much as if it were French, with an accent 
on a. In 1. 808 the accent is on 0. Lastly, in 1. 858, all three syllables 
are fully sounded. 

798. ' Three days and a quarter of an hour ' ; i. e. she was to be 
allowed only three days, and after that to start off as soon as possible. 
Tide (like ii^ in Icelandic) sometimes means an hour. The French 
text says ' deynz quatre iours,' within four days. 

801. croude, push ; see 11. 296, 299 above ; and note to 1. 299. 

813-26. Lines 813-819 are not in the French, and 11. 820-826 are 
not at all close to the original. The former stanza, which is due to 
Boeth. bk. i. met. 5. 22-30, was doubtless added in the revision. 

827-33. The French text only has — 'en esperaunce qe dure 
comencement amenera dieu a bon fyn, et qil me purra en la mere 
sauuer, qi en mere et en terre est de toute puissaunce.' 

835. The beautiful stanzas in 11. 834-868 are all Chaucer's own ; and 
of the next stanza, 11. 869-875, the French text gives but the merest 

842. eggeinent, incitement. The same word is used in other 
descriptions of the Fall. Thus, in Piers Plowman, B. i. 65, it is said 
of Satan that ' Adam and Eue he egged to ille '; and in Allit. Poems, 
ed. Morris, B. 241, it is said of Adam that 'thurgh the eggyng oi Eue 
he ete of an apple,' 

852. refiit, refuge ; see G. 75, and A. B. C. 14. 

859. As lat, pray, let. See note to Clerkes Prologue, E. 7. 

W. 767-947] THE TALE OF THE MAN OF LAWE. i6i 

873. /5«rr//<z^^, provide, make provision. So in Troilus, bk. ii. 1125, 
the line 'And of som goodly answere you purchace' means— and 
provide yourself with some kind answer, i. e. be ready with a kind reply. 

875-84. Much abridged from the French text. 

885. tormented, tortured. However, the French text says the 
messenger acknowledged his drunkenness freely. Examination by 
torture was so common, that Chaucer seems to have regarded the 
mention of it as being the most simple way of telling the story. 

893. out of drede, without doubt, certainly ; cf. 1. 869. The other 
equally common expression out of doutc comes to much the same thing, 
because doute in Middle-English has in general the meaning ofy'^^zror 
dread, not of hesitation. See Group E. 634, 1 155 ; and Prol. A. 487. 

894. pleinly rede, fully read, read at length. In fact, Chaucer judi- 
ciously omits the details of the French text, where we read that King 
yElla rushed into his mother's room with a drawn sword as she lay 
asleep, roused her by crj'ing ' traitress ! ' in a loud voice, and, after 
hearing the full confession which she made in the extremity of her terrer, 
slew her and cut her to pieces as she lay in bed. 

901. _/?t'/^//it, floats. French text— 'le quinte an de cest exil, come 
ele i\x flotaiint sur le mere,' &c. Qi. fleet in 1. 463. 

905. The name of the castle is certainly not given in the French 
text, which merely says it was ' vn chastel dun Admiral de paens,' i. e. 
a castle of an admiral of the Pagans. 

912. gauren, gaze, stare. See note to Squ. Tale, F. 190, 

913. shortly, briefly ; because the poet considerably abridges this 
part of the narrative. The steward's name was Thelous. 

925. The word Auctor, here written in the margin of E., signifies that 
this stanza and the two following ones are additions to the story by the 
author. At the same time, 11. 925-931 are really taken from Chaucer's 
own translation of Pope Innocent's treatise De Contemptu Mundi ; see 
further in the note to B. 99 above. Accordingly, we also find here, in 
the margin of E., the following Latin note : — ' O extrema libidinis 
turpitudo, que non solum mentem effeminat, set eciam corpus eneruat. 
Semper sequ[u]ntur dolor et penitentia post,' &c. This corresponds 
to the above treatise, lib. ii. c. 21, headed ' De luxuria.' The last clause 
is abbreviated ; the original has : — ' Semper illam procedunt ardor et 
petulantia ; semper comitantur fetor et immunditia ; sequuntur semper 
dolor et poenitentia.' 

932-45. These two stanzas are wholly Chaucer's, plainly written 
as a parallel passage to that in 11. 470-504 above. 

934. Golias, Goliath. See i Samuel xvii. 25. 

940. See the story of Holofernes in the Monkes Tale, B. 3741 ; and 
the note. I select the spelling Olofertius here, because it is that of the 
majority of the MSS., and agrees with the title De Oloferno in the 
Monkes Tale. 

947. In 1. 465, Chaucer mentions the * Strait of Marrok,' i. e. Morocco, 
though there is no mention of it in the French text ; so here he alludes 

* * * ts 


to it again, but by a different name, viz. 'the mouth of Jubalter and 
Septe.' Jubaltar (Ciibialtar) is from the hxd\i\cjahdlii't tarik, i.e. the 
mountain of Tarik ; who was the leader of a band of Saracens that 
made a descent upon Spain in the eighth century. Septe is Ceuta, on 
the opposite coast of Africa. 

965. shortly, briefly ; because Chaucer here again abridges the 
original, which relates how the Romans burnt the Sultaness, and 
slew more than il,ooo of the Saracens, without a single death or even 
wound on their own side. 

967. senatour. His name was Arsemius of Cappadocia ; his wife's 
name was Helen. Accent victorie on the o, 

969. as seith the storie, as the history says. The French text relates 
this circumstance fully. 

971. The French text says that, though Arsemius did not recognise 
Constance, she, on her part, recognised him at once, though she did not 
reveal it. 

981. mmte. Helen, the wife of Arsemius, was daughter of Sallus- 
tius, brother of the Emperor Tiberius, and Constance's uncle. Thus 
Helen was really Constance's first cousin. Chaucer may have altered it 
purposely ; but it looks as if he had glanced at the sentence — ' Cest 
heleyne, la nece Constaunce, taunt tendrement ama sa nece,' &c., and 
had read it as — ' This Helen . . . loved her 7iiece so tenderly.' In reality, 
the word nece means ' cousin ' here, being applied to Helen as well as to 

982. she, i.e. Helen ; for Constance knew Helen. 

991. to receyven,\.^.\.o submit himself to any penance which the 
Pope might see fit to impose upon him. Journeys to Rome were 
actually made by English kings ; Alfred was sent to Rome as a boy, 
and his father, ^thelwulf, also spent a year there, but (as the Chronicle 
tells us) he went * mid micelre weor^nesse,' with much pomp. 

994. wikked werkes ; especially the murder of his mother, as Trivet 
says. See note to 1. 894. 

999. Rood him ageyn, rode towards him, rode to meet him ; cf. 
1. 391. See Cler. Tale, E. 911, and the note. 

1009. Som men wolde seyn, some relate the stoiy by saying. The 
expression occurs again in 1. 1086. On the strength of it, Tyrwhitt 
concluded that Chaucer here refers to Gower, who tells the story of 
Constance in Book ii. of his Confessio Amantis. He observes that 
Gower's version of the story includes both the circumstances which 
are introduced by this expression. But this is not conclusive, since 
we find that Nicholas Trivet also makes mention of the same 
circumstances. In the present instance the French text has — 'A ceo 
temps de la venuz le Roi a Rome, comensca Moris son diseotisme aan. 
Cist estoit apris pjuiement de sa mere Constance, qe, quant il irreit 
a lafeste ou son seigmir le senatour^ &c. ; i.e. At this time of the king's 
coming to Rome, Maurice began his eighteenth year. He -was secretly 
instructed by his mother Co?istance, that^ when he should go to the 

LI. 965-1086.] THE TALE OF THE MAN OF LAWE. 163 

feast with his lord the senator, &c. See also the note to 1. 1086 
below. Besides, Gower may have followed Chaucer. 

1014. metes space, time of eating. This circumstance strikingly 
resembles the story of young Roland, who, whilst still a child, was 
instructed by his mother Bertha to appear before his uncle Charlemagne, 
by way of introducing himself. The story is well told in Uhland's 
ballad entitled ' Klein Roland,' a translation of which is given at 
pp. 335-340 of my ' Ballads and Songs of Uhland.' 

'They had but waited a little while, 
When Roland returns more bold ; 
With hasty step to the king he comes. 
And seizes his cup of gold. 

"What ho, there! stop! you saucy imp!" 

Are the words that loudly ring. 
But Roland clutches the beaker still 

With eyes fast fixed on the king. 

The king at the first looked fierce and dark, 

But soon perforce he smiled — 
"Thou comest," he said, "into golden halls 

As though they were woodlands wild,'" &c. 

The result is also similar ; Bertha is reconciled to Charlemagne, much 
as Constance is to JEWa. 

1034. aught, in any way, at all ; lit. *a whit.' 

1035. sighte, sighed. So also pight'e, ' pitched ' ; plighte, ' plucked ' ; 
and shrighte, 'shrieked.* It occurs again in Troil. iii. 1080, iv. 714, 
1217, V. 1633; and in the Romaunt of the Rose, 1. 1746. 

1036. that he viighte, as fast as he could. 

1038. ' I ought to suppose, in accordance with reasonable opinion.' 
Chaucer tells the story quite in his own way. There is no trace of 
11. 1038-1042 in the French, and scarcely any of 11. 1048- 107 1, which 
is all in his own excellent strain. 

1056. shet, shut, closed. Compare the description of Griselda in 
the Clerkes Tale, E. 1058-1061. 

1058. Both tivyes and oiune are dissyllabic. 

1060. all his halwes, all His saints. Hence the tenn All-hallow- 
mas, i. e. All Saints' day. 

1061. loisly, certainly, as have, I pray that he may have ; see note 
to 1. 859 above. ' I pray He may so surely have mercy on my soul, as 
that I am as innocent of your suffering as Maurice my son is like you 
in the face.' 

1078. After this line, the French text tells us that King yElla pre- 
sented himself before Pope Pelagius, who absolved him for the death 
of his mother. Pelagius II. was pope in 578-90. 

1086. Here again, Tyrwhitt supposes Chaucer to follow Gower. 
But, in fact, Chaucer and Gower both consulted Trivet, who says 

M 2 


here — ' Constaunce charga son fitz Morice del messager [or message] 
.... Et puis, quant Morice estoit deuaunt Icmpereur venuz, oue la 
compaignic honurable, et auoit son message fest de part le Roi son 
pere,' &c. ; i. e. ' Constance charged her son Maurice with the message 
.... and then, when Maurice was come before the emperor, with the 
honourable company, and had done his message on behalf of the king 
his father,' &c. Or, as before, Cower may have copied Chaucer. 

1090. As/te; used much as we should now use 'as one." It refers 
to the Emperor, of course. 

1091. ^^«/c', elliptical for 'as that he would send.' Tyrwhitt reads 
se;id; but it is best to leave an expression like this as it stands in the 
MSS. It was probably a colloquial idiom; and, in the next line, we 
have weiite. Observe ^hat sente is in the subjunctive mood, and is 
equivalent to ' he would send.' 

1107. Chaucer so frequently varies the length and accent of a proper 
name that there is no objection to the supposition that we are here to 
read Custanc'e in three syllables, with an accent on the first syllable. 
In exactly the same way, we find Grisildis in three syllables (E. 948), 
though in most other passages it is Grisild. We have had Cusiance, 
accented on the first syllable, several times ; see 11. 438, 556, 566, 576, 
&c.; also Cusidnce, three syllables, 11. 184, 274, 319, 612, &.c. Tyrwhitt 
inserts a second your before Cuslafice, but without authority. 

1109. // am /; it is I. It is the usual idiom. So in the A.S. 
version of St. John vi. 20, we find ' ic hyt eom,' i. e. I it am, and in 
a Dutch New Testament, a.d. 1700, I find 'Ick ben 't,' i.e. I am it. 
The Moeso-Gothic version omits it, having simply 'Ik im'; so does 
Wyclifs, which has ' I am.' Tyndale, a.d. 1526, has 'it ys I.' 

1113. iho7tketh, pronounced ihonk'th; so also eyVth, B. 1 171, 
Abyd'th, B. 1 175. So also tak'th, I. 1142 below, of, for. So in 
Chaucer's Balade of Truth, 1. 19, we have 'thank God 0/ al' i.e. for 
all things. See my notes to Chaucer's Minor Poems, vol. i. p. 552. 

1123. The French text tells us that he was named Maurice of Cap- 
padocia, and was also known, in Latin, as Mauritius Christianissitnus 
Iinperator. Trivet tells us no more about him, except that he accounts 
for the title 'of Cappadocia' by saying that Arsemius (the senator who 
found Constance and Maurice and took care of them) was a Cappado- 
cian. Gibbon says — 'The Emperor Maurice derived his origin from 
ancient Rome ; but his immediate parents were settled at Arabissus 
in Cappadocia, and their singular felicity preserved them alive to 

behold and partake the fortune of their august son Maurice 

ascended the throne at the mature age of 43 years ; and he reigned 
above 20 years over the east and over himself.' — Decline and Fall of 
the Roman Empire, cap. xlv. He was murdered, with all his seven 
children, by his successor, Phocas the Usurper; Nov. 27, a.d. 600. 
His accession was in a.d. 582. 

1127. The statement ' I here it not in minde,' i.e. I do not remem- 
ber it, may be taken to mean that Chaucer could find nothing about 

LI.1090-1169.] THE SHIPMAN'S PROLOGUE. 165 

Maurice in his French text beyond the epithet Christianissitnus, 
which he has skilfully expanded into 1. 1123. He vaguely refers us 
to 'olde Romayn gestes,' that is, to lives of the Roman emperors, for 
he can hardly mean the Gesta Romanorum in this instance. Gibbon 
refers us to Evagrius, lib. v. and lib. vi. ; Theophylact Simocatta ; 
Theophanes, Zonaras, and Cedrenus. 

1132. In the margin of IMSS. E. Hn. Cp. Pt. is written — 'A mane 
usque ad vesperam mutabitur tempus. Tenent tympanum et gaudent 
ad sonum organi,' &c. See the next note. 

1135. In the margin of MSS. E. Hn. Cp. Pt. is written— *Quis 
vnquam vnicam diem totam duxit in sua dilectione \_vel dclectatione] 
iocundam ? quern in aliqua parte diei reatus consciencie, vel impetus 
Ire, vel motus concupiscencie non turbauerit? quem liuor Inuidie, 
vel Ardor Auaricie, vel tumor superbie non vexauerit.'' quem aliqua 
iactura vel offensa, vel passio non commouerit,' &c. Cp. Pt. insert 
inde before tioti turbauerit. This corresponds to nothing in the 
French text, but it is quoted from Pope Innocent's treatise, De 
Contemptu Mundi, lib. i. c. 22 ; see note to B. 99 above. The extract 
in the note to 1. 11 32 occurs in the same chapter, but both clauses in it 
are borrowed; the former from Ecclus. xviii. 26, the latter from Job, 
xxi. 12. 

1143. / gesse, I suppose. Chaucer somewhat alters the story. 
Trivet says that .Ella died at the end of nine months after this. 
Half-a-year after, Constance repairs to Rome. Thirteen days after 
her arrival, her father Tiberius dies. A year later, Constance herself 
dies, on St. Clement's day (Nov. 23), a.d. 584, and is buried at Rome, 
near her father, in St. Peter's Church. The date 584, here given by 
Trivet, should rather be 583 ; the death of Tiberius took place on 
Aug. 14, 582 ; see Gibbon. 

The Shipman's Prologue. 

1165. The host here refers to the Man of Lawes Tale, which had just 
been told, and uses the expression ' thrifty tale ' with reference to the 
same expression above, B. 46. ]Most MSS. separate this end-link 
widely from the Tale, but MS. HI. and MS. Arch. Sold. B. 14 have it 
in the right place. See vol. ill. pp. 417-9. 

for the nones, for the nonce, for the occasion ; see note to the Pro- 
logue, A. 379. The A. S. dnes ( = once) is an adverb with a genitive 
case-ending ; and, being an adverb, becomes indeclinable, and can 
accordingly be used as a dative case after the preposition _/^r, which 
properly governs the dative. 

1166. The Host here turns to the Parson (see Prol. A. 477), and 
adjures him to tell a tale, according to the agreement. 

1167. yore, put for of yore, formerly, already. — M. 

1169. Can inocJie good, know (or are acquainted with) much good; 
i. e. with many good things, Cf. B. 47. 


1170. Bencdiciie, bless ye ; i. c. bless ye the Lord ; the first word of 
the Song of the Three Children, and a more suitable exclamation than 
most of those in common use at the time. In the Knightcs Talc, 

A. 1785, where Theseus \^ pondering o\^x the strange event he had just 
witnessed, the word is pronounced itifull, as five syllables. But in A. 
2115, it is pronounced, as here, as a mere trisyllable. The syllables to 
be dropped are the second and third, so that we must sa.y ben'ci/e. This 
is verified by a passage in the Tovvnley Mysteries, p. 85, where it is 
actually spelt bensfe, and reduced to two syllables only. Cf. notes to 

B. 1974, and Troil. i. 780. 

1171. man; dat. case after eylcth. Swearing is alluded to as 
a prevalent vice amongst Englishmen in Robert of Brunne, in the 
Persones Tale of Chaucer, and elsewhere. — M. 

1172. O lankin, &c. ; ' O Johnny, you are there, are you ? ' That is, 
'so it is you whom I hear, is it, Mr. Johnny ?' A derisive interruption. 
It was common to call a priest Sir John, by way of mild derision ; see 
Monkes Prol. (B. 31 19) and Nonne Prestes Prol. (B. 4000). The Host 
carries the derision a little further by using the diminutive form. See 
note to B. 4000. 

1173. a loller, a term of reproach, equivalent to a canting fellow. 
Tyrwhitt aptly cites a passage from a treatise of the period, referring to 
the Harleian Catalogue, no. 1666 : — 'Now in Engelond it is a comun 
protectioun ayens persecutioun, if a man is customable to swere nedeles 
and fals and unavised, by the bones, nailes, and sides, and other 
membres of Christ. And to absteyne fro othes nedeles and unleful, 
and repreve sinne by way of charite, is mater and cause now, why 
Prelates and sum Lordes sclaundren men, and clepen hem Lol/ardeSy 
Eretikes,' &c. 

The reader will not clearly understand this word till he distinguishes 
between the Latin loUardus and the English loller, two words of 
different origin which w&re. purposely confounded in the time of Wyclif. 
The Latin LoUardus had been in use before Wyclif. Ducange quotes 
from Johannes Hocsemius, who says, under the date 1309 — ' Eodem 
anno quidam hypocritae gyrovagi, qui Lollardi, sive Deum laudantes, 
vocabantur, per Hannoniam et Brabantiam quasdam mulieres nobiles 
deceperunt.' He adds that Trithemius says in his Chronicle, under 
the year 13 15 — 'ita appellatos a Gualtero Lolhard, Germano quodam.' 
Kilian, in his Dictionary of Mid. Dutch, says — ^ Lollaerd, mussitator, 
mussitabundus'; i. e. a mumbler of prayers. This gives two etymolo- 
gies for LoUardus. Being thus already in use as a term of reproach, it 
was applied to the followers of Wyclif, as we learn from Thomas Wal- 
singham, who says, under the year 1377 — 'Hi uocabantur a uulgo 
LoUardi, incedentes nudis pedibus'; and again — '■ I^oUardi sequaces 
Joannis Wiclif.' But the Old English loUer (from the verb to loU) meant 
simply a lounger, an idle vagabond, as is abundantly clear from a notable 
passage in Piers the Plowman, C-text (ed. Skeat), x. 188-218 ; where 
William tells us plainly — 

LI. 1170-1189.] THE SIIIPMAN'S PROLOGUE. 167 

* Now kyndeliche, by crist • be|) suche callyd lolletrs, 
As by englisch of oure eldres * of olde menne techynge. 
He that lollep is lame ' o))er his leg out of ioynte,' &;c. 

Here were already two ("if not three) words confused, but this was not 
all. By a bad pun, the Latin !o/iu?n, tares, was connected with Lollard, 
so that we find in Political Poems, i. 232, the following — 

'LoUardi sunt zizania, 
Spinae, uepres, ac lollia, 

Quae uastant hortum uineae.' 
This obviously led to allusions to the Parable of the Tares, and fully 
accounts for the punning allusion to cockle, i.e. tares, in 1. 1 183. 
Mr. Jephson observes that loliiim is used in the Vulgate Version, Matt, 
xii. 25 ; but this is a mistake, as the word there used is zizania. 
Gower, Prol. to Conf. Amant., ed. Pauli, i, 15, speaks of — 
'This newe secte of lollardic, 
And also many an heresie.' 

Also in book v., id. ii. 187, — 

'Be war that thou be nought oppressed 
With anticristes loUardie^ <S:c. 
See Mosheim, Eccl. Hist, iii- 355-358 ; Wordsworth's Eccl. Biography, 
i. 331, note. 

1180. * He shall not give us any commentary on a gospel.' To glose 
is to comment upon, with occasional free introduction of irrelevant 
matter. The gospel is the text, or portion of the Gospel commented 

1181. * We all agree in the one fundamental article of faith '; by which 
he insinuates — 'and let that suffice; we want no theological subtilties 
discussed here.' 

1183. spritigen, scatter, sprink-\Q. The pt. t. is spreytide or spreynte ; 
the pp. spreynd occurs in B. 422, 1830. — Vl. Gower, Conf. Amantis, 
bk. v., ed» Pauli, ii. 190, speaks oi lollardie 

'Which now is come for to dwelle. 
To sowe cockel with the corne.' 

1185. body, i. e. self Cf ly/=^ person, in P. Plowman, B. iii. 292. — M. 

1186. See B. 3984, which suggests that there is a play upon words 
here. The Shipman will make his horse's bells ring loudly enough to 
awake them all ; or he will ring so merry a peal, as to rouse them like 
a church bell that awakes a sleeper. 

1189. It is plain that the unmeaning words p/iislyas and p/iillyas, as 
in the MSS., must be corruptions of some difficult form. I think that 
form is certainly ^/^/mvj, with reference to the Physics of Aristotle, here 
conjoined with 'philosophy ' and ' law' in order to include the chief forms 
of medieval learning. Aristotle was only known, in Chaucer's time, in 
Latin translations, and Physices Liber would be a possible title for 
such a translation. Lewis and Short's Lat. Diet, gives ^ physica, gen. 


physicae, and phystce, gen. physices^ f., = (^vo-ikij, natural science, natural 
philosophy, physics, Cicero, Acaclem. I. 7. 25 ; id. De Finibus, 3. 2i. 
72 ; 3. 22. 73.' Magister Artium et Physices was the name of 
a degree ; see Longfellow's Golden Legend, § vi. 

That Chaucer should use the g&n. p/tysices alone, is just in his usual 
manner ; cf. ludtctim, B. 3236 ; Eneidos, B. 4549 ; Metaviorphoseos, 
B. 93. Tyrwhitt's reading ofphysike gives the same sense. 

The Shipmannes Tale. 

This Tale agrees rather closely with one in Boccaccio's Decamerone, 
Day viii. nov. i. See further in vol. iii. p. 420. 

1191. Seini Doiys, Saint Denis, in the environs of Paris. Cf. 11. 
1247, 1249, and note to 1341. 

1202. us, i.e. us women. This is clear proof that some of the 
opening lines of this Tale were not originally intended for the Shipman, 
but for the Wife of Bath, as she is the only lady in the company to 
whom they would be suitable. We may remember that Chaucer 
originally meant to make each pilgrim tell four Tales ; so there is 
nothing surprising in the fact that he once thought of giving this to the 
Wife. This passage is parallel to D, 337-339. 

1209. perilous. Cf. D. 339 : ' it is peril of our chastitee.' 

1228. Referring to the common proverb— 'As fain as a fowl [bird] 
of a fair day '; cf. 1. 1 241 below, A. 2437, G. 1342. 

12B3. Daim, Dan, for Lat. Dominus^ corresponding to E. sir, as in 
' Sir John,' a common title for a priest. Cf. B. 31 19. 

1244. Shoop him, lit. shaped himself, set about, got ready. Cf. 
P. Plowman, C. i. 2, xiv. 247, and the notes. 

1245. Brugges, Bruges ; which, as Wright remarks, was * the grand 
central mart of European commerce in the middle ages.' Cf. P. Plow- 
man, C. vii. 278, and the note. 

1256. graunges, granges; cf. notes to A. 3668, and A. 166. 

1260. Malvesye, Malmsey; so named from Malvasia,no\v Napoli 
di Malvasia, a town on the E. coast of Lacedaemonia in the Morea. 
See note in the Babees Book, ed. Furnivall, p. 206, where Malvasia 
is explained as the Ital. corruption of Moiievivasia, from Gk. }i.6vr] 
e'fi^acria, single entrance ; with reference to its position. 
. 1261. Verfiage. In the Babees Book, ed. Furnivall, p. 203, vernage 
is said to be a red wine, bright^ sweet, and somewhat rough, from 
Tuscany and Genoa, and other parts of Italy. The Ital. name is 
veniaccia, lit. the name of a thick-skinned grape. The information in 
this note and the preceding one is drawn from Henderson's History 
of Ancient and Modern Wines, 1824 : which see. 

1262. volatyl, wild fowl, game ; here used as a collective plural, to 
represent Lat. uolatilia. Littr^ quotes : * Tant ot les volatiles chieres ' ; 
Roman de la Rose, 20365. Wyclif has al volatile to translate cundum 


uolatile, Gen. vii. 14 ; also my volatilis in Matt. xxii. 4, where the 
Vulgate has altilia. Cf. F. volaille. 

1278. passed pryine, past 9 A. M. See notes to A. 3906, F. y^ ; and 
cf. B. 1396. 

1281. his ihiftges, the things he had to say; cf. F. yZ. It 'means 
the divine office in the Breviarj', i.e. the psalms and lessons from 
scripture which, being absent from the convent, he was bound to say 
privately'; Bell, curteis/y, reverently. See note to 1. 1321 below. 

1287. under the yerde, still subject to the discipline of the rod. As 
girls were married at a very early age, this should mean ' still quite 
a child.' Cf. as hir list in 1. 12S6. And see E. 22. See TElfric's 
Colloquy (Wright's V'ocab. ed. Wiilker, p. 102), where the boy says he 
is still sub uirga, on which the A. S. gloss is under gyrda. F. sous la 
verge (Littre). 

1292. appalled., enfeebled, languid ; see F. 365. 

1293. ^a;r, lie motionless. This is the original sense of the word, 
as in E. Friesic bedaren. So also Low G. bedaren, to be still and 
quiet ; as in dat weer bedaart, the weather becomes settled ; eeti 
bedaart niafm, a man who has lost the fire of youth. Du. bedaren, to 
compose, to calm. The rather common IVL E. phrase to droupe and 
dare means ' to sink down and lie quiet,' like a hunted animal in 
hiding ; hence came the secondaiy sense ' to lurk ' or * lie close,' as 
in the Prompt. Parv. Cotgrave has F. blotir, ' to squat, skowke, or lie 
close to the ground, like a daring lark or affrighted foul.' Hence also 
a third sense, ' to peer round,' as a lurking creature that looks out 
for possible danger. The word is common in ^L E., and in many 
passages the sense 'to lie still ' suits better than ' lurk,' as it is usually 

1295. II ''ere, 'which might be,' 'which should happen to be'; the 
relative is understood, forstraught, distracted. Such is evidently 
the sense ; but the word occurs nowhere else, and is incorrect. As 
far as I can make it out, Chaucer has coined this word incorrectly. 
The right word is destrat (vol. ii. p. 67, 1. i), from O. F. destrait, 
pp. of desiraire, to tear asunder (as by horses), to torment, fatigue 
(Godefroy). Next, he turned it (i) xnio forstrait, pp. oi forsiraire 
{fortraire in Cotgrave), to purloin; and (2) \x\io forstratight, as if it 
were the pp. of an A. S. */or-streccan, to stretch exceedingly. Thus, 
he has made one change by altering the prefix, and another by 
misdividing the word and substituting English for French. A similar 
mistake is seen in the absurd form distraught, used for ' distracted,' 
though it is, formally, equivalent to dis-straught, as if made up of the 
prefix dis- and the pp. of strecchen, to stretch. An early instance 
occurs in Lydgate's Minor Poems, ed. Halliwell, p. 206, where we find 
* Distrauhte in thouhte,' i.e. distracted in thought, mad. There is 
much confusion between the E. ^r&fi^ts for-, fore-, and the Y.fors-, for-. 
Chaucer has stratighte (correctly), as the pt. t. of strecchen, in A. 2916. 

1298. Accent laboured ow the second syllable. 


1303. ' God knows all'; implying, ' I can contradict you, if I choose 
to speak.' 

1321. port-hors, ior porte-hors, lit. 'carry-abroad,' the F. equivalent 
of Lat. porti/on'tun, a breviary. Also spelt portous, portcss, Sec. 
*The Porious, or Breviary, contained whatever was to be said by 
all beneficed clerks, and those in holy orders, either in choir, or 
privately by themselves, as they recited their daily canonical hours ; 
no musical notation was put into these books.' — Rock, Church of our 
Fathers, v. iii, pt. 2, p. 212. Dan John had just been saying *his 
things' out of it (1. 1281). The music was omitted to save space. 
See P. Plowman, B. xv. 122, and my note on the line. 

1327. /£»;- io goon, i.e. even though going to hell were the penalty of 
my keeping secret what you tell me. 

1329- ' This I do, not for kinship, but out of true love.' 

1335. a legende, a story of martyrdom, like that of a saint's life. 

1338. St. Martin of Tours, whose day is Nov. 11. 

1341. St. Denis of France, St. Dionysius, bishop of Paris, martyred 
A. D. 272, whose day is Oct. 9. Near his place of martyrdom was 
built a chapel, which was first succeeded by a church, and then by the 
famous abbey of St. Denis, in which King Dagobert and his successors 
were interred. The French adopted St. Denis as their patron saint ; 
see Chambers, Book of Days, ii. 427 ; Alban Butler, Lives of the 
Saints, Oct. 9. 

1353. sit, is becoming, befits ; see E. 460, 1277. 

1384. Geniloun, Genilon or Ganelon, the traitor who betrayed 
Charlemagne's army at Roncesvalles. For this deed he was torn to 
death by wild horses, according to the romance-writers. See La 
Chanson de Roland, 1. 3735. Cf. note to B. 3579, and Book of the 
Duchesse, 1 121, and my note upon it. 

1396. chilindre, a kind of portable sun-dial, lit. cylinder. A thirteenth- 
century Latin treatise on the use of the chilmdre was edited by 
Mr. E. Brock for the Chaucer Society, and I here copy his clear 
description of the instrument. ' The Chilindre {cylindrus) or cylinder 
is one of the manifold forms of the sun-dial, very simple in its con- 
struction, but rude and inaccurate as a time-shower. According to 
the following treatise, it consists of a wooden cylinder, with a central 
bore from top to bottom, and with a hollow space in the top, into which 
a moveable rotary lid with a little knob at the top is fitted. This lid 
is also bored in the centre, and a string passed through the whole 
instrument. Upon this string the chilindre hangs [perpendicularly] 
when in use. The style or gnomon works on a pin fixed in the lid. 
When the instrument is in use, the style projects at a right angle to the 
surface of the cylindrical body, through a notch in the side of the 
lid, but can, at pleasure, be turned down and slipt into the central bore, 
which is made a little wider at the top to receive it. The body of the 
chilmdre is marked with a table of the points of the shadow, a table 
of degrees for finding the sun's altitude, and spaces corresponding to 

LI. 1303-404.1 THE SHIPMANNES TALE. 171 

the months of the year and the signs of the zodiac. Across these spaces 
are drawn six oblique hour-lines. 

' To ascertain the time of day by the chilindre^ consider what month 
it is, and turn the lid round till the style stands directly over the 
corresponding part of the chilindre ; then hold up the instrument by 
the string so that the style points towards the sun, or in other words, so 
that the shadow of the style falls perpendicularly, and the hour will be 
shewn by the lowest line reached by the shadow.' 

Another treatise of the same character was subsequently edited by 
Mr. Brock for the same Society. It is entitled 'Practica Chilindri ; or 
the Working of the Cylinder ; by John Hovedcn.' 

There is a curious reference to the same instrument in the follow- 
ing passage from Horman's Vulgaria, leaf 338, back: — 'There be 
iomeyringis [day-circles, dials] and instrume«t/i' lyke an ha//g>'^nge 
pyler with a tu«ge lyllyng [lolling] out, to knowe what tyme of the day.' 

In Wright's Vocabularies, ed. Wiilkcr, 572. 22, we find : ' Chiliiidnis, 
anglice a leuel ; uel est instrttmenttnn quo hore notantur, anglice 
a chylaundre.' It thus appears that the reading kalendar, in the old 
editions, is due to a mistake. 

The most interesting comment on this passage is afforded by the 
opening lines of the Prologue to Part II. of Lydgate's Siege of Thebes^ 
where Lydgate is clearly thinking of Chaucer's words. Here also the 
black-letter edition of 1561 has Kalendar, but the reading of MS. 
Arundel 119 (leaf 18) is more correct, as follows : — 

'Passed the throp of Bowton on the Ble, 
By my chilyndte I gan anon to se, 
Thorgh the Sonne, that ful cler gan shyne. 
Of the clok[ke] that it drogh to nyne.' 
pryme of day, 9 A.M., in the present passage ; see above, and note the 
preparations for dinner in 11. 1399-1401 ; the dinner-hour being 10 A.M. 
See also note to A. 3906. ' Our forefathers dined at an hour at which 
we think it fashionable to breakfast ; ten 0^ clock was the time estab- 
lished by ancient usage for the principal meal'; Our Eng. Home, 
p. 33. In earlier times it was tiine o'clock; see Wright, Hist, of 
Domestic Manners, p. 155. 

1399. ' As cheery as a magpie.' 

1404. Qui la : who's there. All the MSS. agree in thus cutting down 
the expression qui est la to two words ; and this abbreviation is 
emphasised by the English gloss 'Who ther ' in E. and Hn. ; Cm. has 
Who there, without any French. It is clear, too, that the line is imper- 
fect at the caesura, thus : — 

Qui la ? I quod he. | — Pe | ter it [ am I il 
This medial pause is probably intentional, to mark the difference 
between the speakers. Ed. 1532 (which Tyrwhitt follows) has Qui est 
la, in order to fill out the line. Wright has the same ; and (as usual) 
suppresses the fact that the word est is not in the MS. which he follows 
* with literal accuracy.' 


Peter ! by Saint Peter ! a too common exclamation, shewing that even 
women used to swear. It occurs again in D. 446, 1332, and Hous of 
Fame, 1034, 2000. 

1412. eloige, pronounced (eel^ngga), in a dreary, tedious, lonely 
manner ; drearily. From A. S. celenge, lengthy, protracted ; a derivative 
from lang, long ; see P. Plowman, C. i. 204, and the note. In Pegge's 
Kcnticisms (E. D. S. Gloss. C. 3), we have : ' Ellinge [pronounced 
ellinj], adj. solitary, lonely, melancholy, farre from neighbours. See 
Ray.' It is also still in use in Sussex. The usual derivation from A.S. 
ellcnde, foreign, is incorrect ; but it seems to have been confused with 
this word, whence the sense of ' strange, foreign,' was imported 
into it. See Alange in the New E. Dictionary. 

1413. go ive dyne, let us go and dine ; as in P. Plowman, C. i. 

1417. Seint Yve. 'St. Ivia, or Ivo,' says Alban Butler, 'was 
a Persian bishop, who preached in England in the seventh century.' 
He died at St. Ive's in Huntingdonshire. A church was also built in 
his honour at St. Ive's in Cornwall. His day is April 25. This line is 
repeated in D. 1943. Cf. A. 4264. 

1421. dryve forth, spend our time in; cf. P. Plowman, C. i. 225. 

\^2Z. pleye, 'take some relaxation by going on a pilgrimage'; 
clearly shewing the chief object of pilgrimages. Cf. D. 557. The 
line also indicates that it was a practice, when men could no longer 
make a show in the world, to go on a pilgrimage, or ' go out of the 
way ' somewhere, to avoid creditors. 

1436. houshold. So in E. Hn. Cm. ; Cp. Pt. Ln. HI. T. have 
housbo7idey housbond, but the application of this word to a housewife is 
not happy. 

1441. messe, mass ; it seems to have been said, on this occasion, 
about 9.30 A.M. It did not take long ; cf. 1. 14 1 3. 

1445. At-afier, soon after. This curious form is still in use ; see 
the Cleveland Glossary. So in the Whitby Glossary: — 'All things 
in order ; ploughing first, sowing at-after^ Cf. ' at-after supper,' 
Rich. III. iv. 3. 31 ; and see At, § 40, in the New E. Diet. We find 
also at-under sindi at-before. It occurs again in F. 1219. 

1466. a myle-wey, even by twenty minutes (the time taken to walk 
a mile). 

1470. Graiint mercy of, many thanks for. 

1476. * God defend (forbid) that ye should spare.' 

1484. took, handed over, delivered ; see note to P. Plowman, C. iv. 47. 
And see 1. 1594 below. 

1496. let, leadeth, leads ; note the various readings. Cf. ' Thet is 
the peth of pouerte huerby let the holy gost tho thet,' &:c. ; i.e. that is 
the path of poverty whereby the Holy Ghost leads those that, &c. — • 
Ayenbite of Inwyt, p. 185 ; and so again in the same, p. 115, 1. 9, and 
p. 51, 1. 13. In P. Plowman, B. iii. 157, the Rawlinson MS. has /^/ 
instead of ledeth. 


1499. crowne ; alluding to the priestly tonsure. See note to 
P. Plowman, C. i. 86. 

1506. For bolt-ttpright^ see note to A. 4194. This line is defective 
in the first foot ; read — Hav' | hir in | his, &c. Tyrwhitt reads Haven, 
but admits, in the notes, that the final n came out of his own head. 

1515. the faire, the fair at Bruges. On fairs, see the note to 
P. Plowman, C. vii. 211. 

1519. chevisaunce, di contract for borrowing money on his credit; 
see A. 282, and note to P. Plowman, B. v. 249. For the purpose of 
making such a contract, a proportional sum had to be paid down in 
ready money ; see note to 1. 1524. 

1524. ' A certain (number ofj franks ; and some (franks) he took 
with him.' The latter sum refers to the money he had to pay down in 
order to get the chevisance made. See note to Wyclif's Works, ed. 
Matthew, p. 528. And see 1. 1558. 

1542. Here sheeld is used as a plural, by analogy with pund, i.e. 
pounds, A sheeld vf3iS a French /cit, or crown ; see A. 278. 

1557. Lwnbardes, Lombards, the great money-lenders and bankers 
of the middle ages. Cf. ' Lumbardes of Lukes, that lyuen by lone as 
lewes,' Lombards from Lucca, that live by lending, as Jews do ; 
P. Plowman, C. v. 194. Owing to the accent, LtnnharcT s is dissyllabic. 

1558. bond \% misprinted hand in Wright's edition; MS. HI. has 
bond, correctly, though the note in Bell says otherwise. 

1592. Marie, by St. Mary ; the familiar ' Marry ! ' as used by our 

Ih'db. yvel thedojn, ill success. Cf. 'Now, sere, evyl thedom com 
to thi snoute'; Co\-entry Mysteries, p. 139. This is printed by 
Halliwell in the form — 'Now, sere evyl Thedom, com to thi snoute,' 
i.e. ' now, sir 111 Success, come to thy snout ' ; but how a man can come 
to his own nose, we are not told. 

1599. bele chere, fair entertainment, hospitality. Beie==mod.. F. 

1606. ' Score it upon my tally,' make a note of it. See A. 570, and 
note to P. Plowman, C. v. 61. 

1613. to wedde, as a pledge (common). Cf. A. 12 18. 

1621. large, liberal ; hence E. largesse, liberality. 

The Prioress's Prologue. 

1625. corpus domi7ius ; of course for corpus domini, the Lord's 
body. But it is unnecessary to correct the Host's Latin, 

1626. ' Now long mayest thou sail along the coast ! ' 

1627. marifieer, Fr. niarinier; we now use the ending -er', but 
modem words of French origin shew their lateness by the accent on 
the last syllable, as engineer. — M. The Fr. piotinier is pioner in 
Shakespeare, but is Xi<y\v pioneer. 

1628. ' God give this monk a thousand cart-loads of bad years ! ' 


He alludes to the deceitful monk described in the Shipman's Tale. 
A last is a \try heavy load. In a Statute of 31 Edw. I. a weight is 
declared to be 14 stone ; 2 weights of wool are to make a sack ; and 
12 sacks a last. This makes a last of wool to be 336 stone, or 42 cwt. 
But the dictionaries shew that the weight was very variable, according 
to the substance weighed. The word means simply a heavy burden, 
from A. S. hlast, a burden, connected with hladan, to load ; so that 
last and load are alike in sense. Laste, in the sense of heavy 
weight, occurs in Richard the Redeles, ed. Skeat, iv. 74. Quad is the 
Old English equivalent of the Dutch kwaad, bad, a word in very 
common use. In O. E., \e g»ed means the evil one, the devil; P. PI. 
B. xiv. 189. Cf. note to A. 4357. The omission of the word 0/ before 
guad may be illustrated by the expression ' four score years,' i. e. ^years. 
1630. 'The monk put an ape in the man's hood, and in his wife's 
too.' We should now say, he made him look like an ape. The con- 
tents of the hood would be, properly, the man's head and face ; but 
neighbours seemed to see peeping from it an ape rather than a man. 
It is a way of saying that he made a dupe of him. In the Milleres 
Tale (A. 3389), a girl is said to have made her lover an ape, i.e. 
a dupe ; an expression which recurs in the Chanones Yemannes Tale, 
G. 1313. Spenser probably borrowed the expression from this very 
passage ; it occurs in his Faerie Queene, iii. 9. 31 : — 

' Thus was the ape, 
By their faire handling, ptit into Malbeccoes capeJ 

1632. * Never entertain monks any more.' 

1637. See the description of the Prioress in the Prologue, A. 118. 

The Prioresses Tale. 

For general remarks upon this Tale, see vol, iii. p. 421. 

1643. Cf. Ps. viii. 1-2. The Vulgate version has — ' Domine 
Dominus noster, quam admirabile est nomen tuum in uniuersa terra ! 
Quoniam eleuata est magnificentia tua super caelos ! Ex ore infantium 
et lactentium perfecisti laudem,' &c. 

1650. can or may, know how to, or have ability to do. 

1651. The * white lily ' was the token of Mary's perpetual virginity. 
See this explained at length in Rock, Church of our Fathers, iii. 245. 

1655. ' For she herself is honour, and, next after her Son, the root of 
bounty, and the help (or profit) of souls.' 

1658. Cf. Chaucer's A. B. C, or Hymn to the Virgin, (Minor Poems, 
vol. i. p. 266), where we find under the heading M — 

' Moises, that saugh the bush with flaumes rede 
Brenninge, of which ther never a stikke brende, 
Was signe of thyn unwemmed maidenhede ; 
Thou art the bush, on which ther gan descende 
The Holy Cost, the which that Moises wende 
Had been a-fyr.' 



So also in st. 2 of an Alliterative Hymn in Warton, Hist. Eng. Poetry, 
ed. Hazlitt, ii. 284. 

1659. 'That, through thy humility, didst draw down from the Deity 
the Spirit that alighted in thee.' 

1660. thalighte = thee alighte, the two words being run into one. 
Such agglutination is more common when the def. art. occurs, or with 
the word to; cf. Texpotinde7i in B. 1716. 

1661. lighte may mean either (i) cheered, lightened; or (2) illu- 
minated. Tyrwhitt and Richardson both take the latter view ; but 
the following passage, in which hertes occurs, makes the former the 
more probable : — 

' But nathelees, it was so fair a sighte 
That it made alle hir hertes for to lighte* 

Sq. Ta. ; F. 395. 
1664. Partly imitated from Dante, Paradiso, xxxiii. 16 : — 

* La tua benignith. non pur soccorre 
A chi dimanda, ma molte fiate 
Liberamente al dimandar precorre. 
In te misericordia, in te pietate, 
In te magnificenza, in te s'aduna 
Ouantunque in creatura 6 di bontate. 
1668. goost biforn, goest before, dost anticipate, of, by. The 
eighth stanza of the Seconde Nonnes Tale (G. 50-56) closely resembles 
11. 1664-70; being imitated from the same passage in Dante. 

1677. Gydeth, guide ye. The plural number is used, as a token 
of respect, in addressing superiors. By a careful analysis of the 
words thou and ye in the Romance of William of Palerne, I de- 
duced the following results, which are generally true in Mid. English. 
* Thou is the language of a lord to a servant, of an equal to an 
equal, and expresses also companionship, love, permission, defiance, 
scorn, threatening : whilst j/^ is the language of a servant to a lord, and 
of compliment, and further expresses honour, submission, or entreaty. 
Thotc is used with singular verbs, and the possessive pronoun thine; 
but ye requires plural verbs, and the possessive your.' — Pref. to 
Will, of Palerne, ed. Skeat, p. xlii. Cf. Abbott's Shakespearian 
Grammar, sect. 231. 

1678. Asie, Asia ; probably used, as Tyrwhitt suggests, in the 
sense of Asia Minor, as in the Acts of the Apostles. 

1679. a lewerye, a Jewry, i.e. a Jews' quarter. In many towns 
there was formerly a Jews' quarter, distinguished by a special name. 
There is still an Old Jewry in London. In John vii. I the word 
is used as equivalent to Judea, as also in other passages in the 
Bible and in Shakesp. Rich. II, ii. i. 55. Chaucer (House of Fame, 
1435) says of Josephus — 

'And bar upon his shuldres hye 
The fame up of the Je-ujerye.' 


Thackeray uses the word with an odd effect in his Ballad of ' The 
White Squall.' See also note to B. 1749. 

1G81. vilanye. So the six MSS. ; 111. has felottyc, wrongly. In 
the margin of the Ellesmere MS. is written 'turpe lucrum,' i.e. vile 
gain, which is evidently the sense intended by lucre of vilanye, 
here put for -jillanoKS lucre or filthy lucre, by poetical freedom 
of diction. See Chaucer's use of Tila7iye in the Prologue, A. 70 
and A. 726. 

1684. free, unobstructed. People could ride and walk through, 
there being no barriers against horses, and no termination in a cul 
de sac. Cf. Troilus, ii, 616-8. 

1687. Children an heep, a heap or great number of children. Of 
is omitted before children as it is before quad y ere in B. 1628. For 
hcep, see Prologue, A. 575. 

1689. ?naner doctrine, kind of learning, i. e. reading and singing, 
as explained below. Here again ^is omitted, as is usual in M.E. 
after the word jnaner; as — ' In another w/a«^rname,' Rob. ofGlouc. 
vol. i. p. 147 ; 'with somme vianere crafte,' P. Plowman, B. v. 25 : *no 
maner wight,' Ch. Prol. A. 71 ; &c. See Matzner, Englische Gram- 
matik, ii. 2. 313. men used, people used ; equivalent to was used. Note 
this use of men in the same sense as the French on, or German tnan. 
This is an excellent instance, as the poet does not refer to men 
at all, but to childrett. Moreover, 7nen (spelt 7ne in note to B. 
1702) is an attenuated form of the sing, man, and not the usual 

1693. clergeon, not 'a young clerk' merely, as Tyrwhitt says, but 
a happily chosen word implying that he was a chorister as well. 
Ducange gives — ' Clergonus, junior clericus, vel puer choralis ; jeune 
clerc, petit clerc ou enfant de choeur'; see Migne's edition. And 
Cotgrave has — ' Clergeon, a singing man, or Ouirester in a Queer 
[choir].' It means therefore 'a chorister-boy.' Cf. Span, clerizon, 
a chorister, singing-boy; see New E. Diet. 

1694. That, as for whom. A London street-boy would say — 
'■which he was used to go to school.' That . . . /«'j- = whose. 

1695. wher-as, where that, where. So in Shakespeare, 2 Hen. VI. 
i. 2. 58 ; Spenser, F. O. i. 4. 38. See Abbott's Shakesp. Grammar, 
sect. 135. thimage, the image ; alluding to an image of the Virgin 
placed by the wayside, as is so commonly seen on the continent. 

1698. Ave Marie; so in Spenser, F. Q. i. i. 35. The words 
were — * Aue Maria, gratia plena ; Dominus tecum ; benedicta tu in 
mulieribus, et benedictus fructus uentris tui. Amen.' See the 
English version in Specimens of Early English, ed. Morris and 
Skeat, p. 106. It was made up from Luke i. 28 and i. 42. Some- 
times the word Jesus was added after tui, and, at a later period, 
an additional clause — ' Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis pecca- 
toribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.' See Rock, Church 
of our Fathers, iii. 315 ; and iii. pt. 2, 134. 


1702. ' For a good child will always learn quickly.' This was a 
proverbial expression, and may be found in the Proverbs of H ending, 
St. 9 : — 

* Me may lere a sely fode [one }>iay teach a good chih{\ 
That is euer toward gode 

With a lutel lore ; 
Yef me nul \if one -will not\ him forther teche, 
Thenne is \Jns\ herte wol areche 

Forte lerne more. 
Sely chyld is sone ylered ; Quoth Hendyng.' 

1704. slant, stands, is. Tyrwhitt says — * we have an account of 
the very early piety of this Saint in his lesson ; Breviarium Ro- 
manum, vi. Decemb.— Cuius uiri sanctitas quanta futura esset, iam 
ab incunabulis apparuit. Nam infans, cum reliquas dies lac nutri- 
cis frequens sugeret, quarta et sexta feria (i.e. oJi Wednesdays 
and Fridays) semel duntaxat, idque uesperi, sugebat.' Besides, 
St. Nicholas was the patron of schoolboys, and the festival of the 
* boy-bishop' was often held on his day (Dec. 6j; Rock, Church of 
our Fathers, iii. 2. 215. 

1708. Ahna redemptoris mater. There is more than one hymn 
with this beginning, but the one meant is perhaps one of five 
stanzas printed in Hymni Latini Medii vEvi, ed. F. J. Mone, vol. ii. p. 200, 
from a St. Gallen MS. no. 452, p. 141, of the thirteenth century. 
The first and last stanzas were sung in the Marian Antiphon, from 
the Saturday evening before the ist Sunday in Advent to Candle- 
mas day. In 1. 4 we have the salutation which Chaucer mentions 
(1. 1723), and in the last stanza is the prayer (1. 1724). These two 
stanzas are as follows : — 

'Alma redemptoris mater, 
quam de caelis misit pater 

propter salutem gentium ; 
tibi dicunt omnes " aue !" 
quia mundum soluens a uae 

mutasti uocem flentium 

Audi, mater pietatis, 
nos gementes a peccatis 

et a malis nos tuere ; 
ne damnemur cum impiis, 
in aeternis suppliciis, 

peccatorum miserere.' 

There is another anthem that would suit almost equally well, 
but hardly comes so near to Chaucer's description. It occurs in 
the Roman Breviary, ed. 1583, p. 112, and was said at compline 
from Advent eve to Candlemas day, like the other; cf. 1. 1730. 
The words are: — 

^ ^ 


* Alma redemptoris mater, quae peruia caeli 
Porta manes, et stella maris, succurre cadenti, 
Surgere qui curat, populo : Tu quae genuisti, 
Natura mirante, tuum sanctum Genitorem, 
Virgo prius ac posteriiis, Gabrielis ab ore 
Sumens illud "Aue!" peccatorum miserere.' 

In the Myrour of Our Lady, ed. Blunt, p. 174, an English trans- 
lation of the latter anthem is given, with the heading 'Alma redemp- 
toris mater.' 

1709. aniiphoner, anthem-book. 'The Antiphoner, or Lyggar, was 
always a large codex, having in it not merely the words, but the 
music and the tones, for all the invitatories, the hymns, responses, 
versicles, collects, and little chapters, besides whatever else belonged 
to the solemn chanting of masses and lauds, as well as the 
smaller canonical hours ' ; Rock, Church of our Fathers, v. 3, pt. 2, 
p. 212. 

1710. ner atid ner^ nearer and nearer. The phrase conie near and 
neor ( = come nearer and nearer) occurs in King Alisaunder, in 
Weber's Metrical Romances, 1. 599. 

1713. was to seye, was to mean, meant. To seye is the gerundial 
or dative infinitive ; see Morris, Hist. Outlines of English Accidence, 
sect. 290. 

1716. Texpoundcn, to expound. .So also iallege =io allege, Kn. 
Ta., A. 3000 (Harl. MS.) ; tespye = \.o espy, Nonne Pr. Ta., B. 4478. 
See note to 1. 1733. 

1726. can but smal, know but little. Cf. ' the compiler is smal 
learned'; Old Plays, ed. Hazlitt, i. 10. — AL Cf. coude=\intw, in 

1. 1735- 

1733. To honoure\ this must be read tondure, like texpoufiden in 

1. 1716. 

1739. To schoiciuard ; cf. From Bordeaux ward in the Prologue, 
A. 397.— M. 

1749. The feeling against Jews seems to have been very bitter, 
and there are numerous illustrations of this. In Gower's Conf. 
Amant. bk. vii, ed. Pauli, iii. 194, a Jew is represented as saying — 

' I am a Jewe, and by my lawe 
I shal to no man be felawe 
To kepe him trouth in word ne dede.' 

In Piers the Plowman, B. xviii. 104, Faith reproves the Jews, and 
says to them — 

' 5e cherles, and jowre children • chieue \ihrive\ shal 5e neure, 
Ne haue lordship in londe • ne no londe tylye [//// , 
But al bareyne be ' & vsurye vsen, 
Which is lyf ])at owre lorde ' in alle lawes acurseth.' 

See also P. PL, C. v. 194. Usury was forbidden by the canon law, 
and those who practised it, chiefly Jews and Lombards, were held to 

LI. 1709-94.1 THE PRIORESSES TALE. 179 

be grievous sinners. Hence the character of Shylock, and of Mar- 
lowe's Jew of Malta. Cf. note on the Jews in England in the Annals 
of England, p. 162. 

1751. honest, honourable ; as in the Bible, Rom. xii. 17, &c. 

1752. swich, such. The sense here bears out the formation of the 
word from so- like. — M. 

1753. your, of you. Shakespeare has ' in yot^r despite,' Cymb. i. 6. 
135 ; 'in thy despite,' l Hen. VI, iv. 7. 22. Despite is used, like the 
Early and Middle English jnatigre, with a genitive ; as maiigre pin, 
in spite of thee, in Havelok, 11. 11 28, 1789.— M. 

1754. ' Which is against the respect due to your law.' Cf. ' spretae- 
que iniuria formae'; yEneid, i. 27. 

1762. Wardrobe, privy. Godefroy's O. F. Diet, shews that garde- 
robe meant not only a wardrobe, or place for keeping robes, &c., but 
also any small chamber ; hence the sense. See Cotgrave. 

1764. ' O accursed folk (composed) of Herods wholly new.' 

1766. ' Murder will out ' ; a proverb ; see B. 4242. 

1769. Souded to, confirmed in. From O. F. souder, Lat. solidare, 
whtnct'E. solder. Wyclifs later version has — 'hise leggis and hise 
feet weren sotudid togidere'; Acts, iii. 7. The reference in 11. 1770-5 
is to "Rev. xiv. 3, 4. 

1793. lesu. This word is written ' Ihu' in E. Hn. Cm. ; and ' ihc' 
in Cp. Pt. Ln. ; in both cases there is a stroke through the h. This is 
frequently printed Ihesu, but the retention of h is unnecessary. It is 
not really an h at all, but the Greek H, meaning long e (e). So, also, 
in * ihc,' the c is not the Latin c, but the Gk. c, meaning 2 or j ; and 
ihc are the first three letters of the word IH20Y2 = kr]crovs = iesus. 
lesu, as well as Iesus, was used as a nominative, though really the 
genitive or vocative case. At a later period, ihs (still with a stroke 
through the h) was written for ihc as a contraction of iesus. By an 
odd error, a new meaning was invented for these letters, and common 
belief treated them as the initials of three Latin words, viz. Iesus 
Hominum Salvator. But as the stroke through the h or mark of con- 
traction still remained unaccounted for, it was turned into a cross ! 
Hence the common symbol I.H.S. with the small cross in the upper 
part of the middle letter. The wrong interpretation is still the favourite 
one, all errors being long-lived. Another common contraction is Xpc, 
where a// the letters are Greek. The x is ch (x), thep is r (p), and c 
is s, so that Xpc = chrs, the contraction for chrisius or Christ. This is 
less common in decoration, and no false interpretation has been found 
for it. 

1794. inwith, within. This form occurs in E. Hn. Pt. Ln. ; the 
rest have luitkin. Again, in the Merchant's Tale (E. 1944), MSS. E. 
Hn. Cm. HI. have the form iji%uith. It occurs in the legend of 
St. Katharine, ed. Morton, 1. 172; in Sir Perceval (Thornton Ro- 
mances), 1. 611 ; in Alliterative Poems, ed. Morris, A. 970; and in 
Palladius on Husbandry, ed. Lodge, iii. 404. Dr. Morris says it was 

N 2 


(like ntiviih = without) originally peculiar to the Northern dialect. 
See the Glossary, and the note to 1. 2159 below (p. 202). 

1805. coomen ; so in E. Hn. ; comen in Pt. Cp. But it is the past 
tense = came. The spelling comen for the past tense plural is very 
common in Early Einglish, and we even find com in the singular. 
Thus, in 1. 1807, the Petworth MS. has ' He come,' equivalent to 
'coom,' the being long. But herietJi in 1. 1808 is Vl presetit tense. 

1814. «^A-/(?, nighest, as in Kn. Ta. A. 1413. So also hext = highest, 
as in the Old Eng. proverb—' When bale is hext, then bote is next,' i. e. 
* when woe is highest, help is nighest.' AV.r/ is for neh-est, and hext 
is for heli-est. 

1817. 7ieioe Rachel, second Rachel, as we should now say ; referring 
to Matt. ii. 18. 

1819. dooihfor to sterve, causes to die. So also in 1. 1823, didehevi 
draive = caused them to be drawn. 

1822. Evidently a proverb; compare Boeth. bk. iv. pr. i. 37-40 
(vol. ii. p. 93) ; and note to P. Plowman, C. v. 140. 

1826. The body occupied the place of honour. ' The bier, if the 
deceased had been a c/erl', went into the chancel ; if a layman, and 
not of high degree, the bearers set it down in the nave, hard by the 
church-door ' ; Rock, Ch. of our Fathers, ii. 472. He cites the Sarum 
Manual, fol. c. 

1827. the abbot ; pronounced ihabbbt. covent, convent ; here used 
for the monks who composed the body over which the abbot presided. 
So in Shakespeare, Hen. VHI, iv. 2. 18 — 'where the reverend abbot, 
With all his covent, honourably received him.' The form covent is 
Old French, still preserved in Covent Gardett. 

1835. hahe ; two MSS. consulted by Tyrwhitt read conjure, a mere 
gloss, caught from the line above. Other examples of halse in the 
sense oi conjure occur. ' Ich ha/si \e. o godes nome ' = I conjure thee 
in God's name ; St. Marherete, ed. Cockayne, p. 17. Again, in Joseph 
of Arimathie, ed. Skeat, 1. 400 — 

' Vppon |)e heije trinite • I halse ]>q to telle ' — 

which closely resembles the present passage. 

1838. to my semmge, i.e. as it appears to me. 

1840. * And, in the ordinary course of nature.* 

1843. Wil, wills, desires. So in Matt. ix. 13, I tvtll have mercy = 
I require mercy ; Gk. eXeoi/ 6i\u> ; Vulgate, misericordiam uolo. 
Cf. B. 45. 

1848. In the Ellesmere MS. (which has the metrical pauses marked) 
the pause in this line is marked after lyf. The word sholde is dissyllabic 
here, having more than the usual emphasis ; it has the force oi ought 
to. Cf. E.I 146. 

1852. In the Cursor Mundi, i^Z^^^ Seth is told to place three 
pippins under the root of Adam's tongue. 

1857. now is used in the sense of take 7ioiice that, without any 

LI. 1805-74.1 THE PRIORESSES TALE. i8i 

reference to iivie. There is no necessity to alter the reading to than, 
as proposed by Tyrwhitt. See Matzner, Engl. Gram. ii. 2. 346, who 
refers to Luke ii. 41, John i. 44, and quotes an apt passage from 
Maundeville's Travels, p. 63 — ^ Now aftre that men han visited the 
holy places, thanne will they tumen toward Jerusalem.' In A. S. the 
word used in similar cases is soplice = soothly, verily. 

1873. Ther, Avhere. leve, grant. No two words have been more 
confused by editors than lene and leice. Though sometimes written 
much alike in MSS., they are easily distinguished by a little care. The 
A. S. lyfaii or Iffan, spelt Icfe in the Onnulum (vol. i. p, 308), answers 
to the Germ, crlatiben, and means ^r^;// ax permit, but it can only be 
used in certain cases. The verb lene, A. S. icenan, now spelt lend, 
often means to give or grant in Early English, but again only in certain 
cases. I quote from my article on these words in Notes and Queries, 
4 Ser. ii. 127— 'It really makes all the difference whether we are 
speaking oiio grant a thing to a person, or io grant that a thing may 
happen. " God lene thee grace," means " God grant thee grace," 
where to grant is to impart', but " God leue we may do right " means 

" God grant we may do right," where to grant is to permit 

Briefly, lene requires an accusative case after it, leue is followed by 
a dependent clause.' Lene occurs in Chaucer, Prol. A. 611, Milleres 
Tale, A. 3777, and elsewhere. Examples of /^//f in Chaucer are (i) in 
the present passage, misprinted lene by Tyrwhitt, Morris, Wright, and 
Bell, though five of our MSS. have leue; (2) in the Freres Tale, 
D. 1644, printed lene by Tyrwhitt (1. 7226), Icene by Morris, leeve by 
Wright and Bell ; (3) (4) (5) in three passages in Troilus and Criseyde 
(ii. 1212, iii. 56, v. 1750), where Tynvhitt prints leve, but unluckily 
recants his opinion in his Glossary, whilst Morris prints lerie. For 
other examples see Stratmann, s. v. Icenan and leven. 

It may be remarked that leve in Old English has several other 
senses; such as (l) to believe ; (2) to live; (3) to leave; (4) to remain; 
(5) leave, sb.\ (6) dear, adj. I give an example in which the first, 
sixth, and third of these senses occur in one and the same line : — 

* What ! leuestow, leue lemman, that i the [thee'l leue wold } ' 

Will, of Paleme, 2358. 

1874. Hugh of Lincoln. The story of Hugh of Lincoln, a boy 
supposed to have been murdered at Lincoln by the Jews, is placed by 
Matthew Paris under the year 1255. Thynne, in his Animadversions 
upon Speght's editions of Chaucer (p. 45 of the reprint of the E.E.T.S.), 
addresses Speght as follows — 'You saye, that in the 29 Henry iii. 
eightene Jewes were broughte ixom Lincolne, and hanged for crucy- 
fyinge a childe of eight yeres olde. Whiche facte was in the 39 Hen. 
iii., so that yo&? niighte verye well haue sayed, that the same childe of 
eighte yeres olde was the same hughe of Lincolne ; of whiche name 
there were twoe, viz. thys younger Seinte Hughe, and Seinte Hughe 
bishoppe of Lincolne, which dyed in the yere 1200, long before this 



/ little seinte hughe. And to prove that this childe of cighte yeres olde 
and that yonge hughe of Lincolne were but one ; I will sett downe two 
auctoryties out of Mathewe Paris and Walsinghame, wherof the fyrste 
wryteth, that in the yere of Christe 1255, being the 39 of Henry the 3, 
a childe called Hughe was sleyne by the Jewes at Lyncolne, whose 
lamentable historye he delyvereth at large ; and further, in the yere 
1256, being 40 Hen. 3, he sayeth, Dimissi sunt quieti 24 Judei d Turri 
London., qui ibidem infames tenebantur compediti pro crucifixione 
sancti Hugonis Lincolniae : All which Thomas Walsingham, in Hypo- 
digma Neustriae, confirmeth : sayinge, Ao. 1255, Puer quidam Chris- 
tianus, nomine Hugo, h, Judeis captus, in opprobrium Christiani nominis 
crudeliter est crucifixus.' There are several ballads in French and 
English, on the subject of Hugh of Lincoln, which were collected by 
M. F. Michel, and published at Paris in 1834, with the title — ' Hugues 
de Lincoln, Recueil de Ballades Anglo-Normandes et Ecossoises 
relatives au Meurtre de cet Enfant.' The day of St. Hugh, bishop of 
Lincoln, is Aug. 27 ; that of St. Hugh, boy and martyr, is June 29. 
See also Brand's Pop- Antiq. ed. Ellis, i. 431. And see vol. iii. p. 423. 
1875. With, by. See numerous examples in Matzner, Engl. Gram, 
ii. 1. 419, amongst which we may especially notice — * Stolne is he luith 
lues'; Towneley Mysteries, p. 290. 

Prologue to Sir Thopas. 

1881. miracle, pronounced )niracl\ Tyrwhitt omits al, and turns 
the word into mirdcle, unnecessarily. 

1883. hoste is so often an evident dissyllable (see 1. 1897), that there 
is no need to insert to after it, as in Tyrwhitt. In fact, bigan is seldom 
followed by to. 

1885. what man artow, what sort of a man art thou ? 

1886. woldest finde, wouldst like to find. We learn from this 
passage, says Tyrwhitt, that Chaucer ' was used to look much upon the 
ground ; that he was of a corpulent habit ; and reserved in his be- 
haviour.' We cannot be quite sure that the poet is serious ; but these 
inferences are probably correct ; cf. Lenvoy a Scogan, 31. 

1889. war you, mind yourselves, i. e. make way. 

1890. as7uclas I; said ironically. Chaucer is as corpulent as the 
host himself. See note to 1. 1886 above. 

1891. 7vere, would be. tcnbrace, to embrace. In the Romaunt of 
the Rose, true lovers are said to be always lean ; but deceivers are 
often fat enough : — 

* For men that shape hem other wey 
Falsly hir ladies to bitray, 
It is no wonder though they be fat'; 1. 2689. 

1893. elvish, elf-like, akin to the fairies ; alluding to his absent looks 

LI. 1875-900.] THE TALE OF SIR THOPAS. 183 

and reserved manner. See Elvish in the Glossary, and cf. ' this elvish 
nyce lore'; Can. Yeom. Tale, G. 842. Palsgrave has — *I waxe 
eluysshe, nat easye to be dealed with, le deuiens mal traictable! 

1900. Ye, yea. The difference in Old English between ye and yis 
(yes) is commonly well marked. Ye is the weaker form, and merely 
assents to what the last speaker says ; but_y/j- is an affirmative of great 
force, often followed by an oath, or else it answers a question containing 
^.negative particle, as in the House of Fame, 864. Cf. B. 4006 below. 

The Tale of Sir Thopas. 

In the black-letter editions, this Tale is called ' The rj-me of Sir 
Thopas,' a title copied by Tyrwhitt, but not found in the seven best 
MSS. This word is now almost universally misspelt rhyme, owing to 
confusion with the Greek rhythm ; but this misspelling is never found 
in old MSS. or in early printed books, nor has any example yet been 
found earlier than the reign of Elizabeth. The old spelling 7i7ne is 
confirmed by the A. S. rim, Icel. rim, Dan. rim, Swed. rim^ Germ, reim^ 
Dutch rijm. Old Fr. rime, &.c. Confusion with rime, hoarfrost, is 
impossible, as the context always decides which is meant ; but it is 
worth notice that it is the latter word which has the better title to an //, 
as the A. S. word for hoarfrost is hrim. Tyrwhitt, in his edition of 
Chaucer, attempted two reforms in spelling, viz. rivie for rhyme, and 
coud for could. Both are most rational, but probably unattainable. 

Thopas. In the Supplement to Ducange we find—' Tliopasius, pro 
Topasius, Acta S. Wencesl. tom. 7. Sept. p. S06, col. i.' The Lat. 
topazius is our topaz. The whole poem is a burlesque (see vol. iii. p. 
423), and Sir Topaz is an excellent title for such a gem of a knight. 
The name Topyas occurs in Richard Coer de Lion, ed. Weber, ii. 11, 
as that of a sister of King Richard I ; but no such name is known to 

The metre is that commonly used before and in Chaucer's time by 
long-winded ballad-makers. Examples of it occur in the Romances of 
Sir Percevall, Sir Isumbras, Sir Eglamour, and Sir Degrevant (in the 
Thornton Romances, ed. Halliwell), and in several romances in the 
Percy Folio MS. (ed. Hales and Furnivall), such as Libius Disconius, 
Sir Triamour, Sir Eglamour, Guy and Colbrande, The Grene Knight, 
&c. ; see also Amis and Amiloun, and Sir Amadas in Weber's Metrical 
Romances; and Lybeaus Disconus, The King of Tars, Le Bone 
Florence, Emare, The Erie of Tolous, and Horn Childe in Ritson's 
collection. To point out Chaucer's sly imitations of phrases, &c. would 
be a long task ; the reader would gain the best idea of his manner 
by reading any one of these old ballads. To give a few illustrations 
is all that can be attempted here ; I refer the reader to Prof. Kolbing's 
elaborate article in the Englische Studien, xi. 495, for further informa- 
tion ; also to the dissertation by C. J. Bennewitz mentioned in vol. iii. 


p. 424. It is remarkable that we find in Weber a ballad called 'The 
Hunting of the Hare,' which is a pure burlesque, like Chaucer's, 
but a little broader in tone and more obviously comic. 

1902. Listeth, lordes, hearken, sirs. This is the usual style of 
beginning. For example, Sir Bevis begins — 

' Lardy nges, lystenyth, grete and smale'; 

and Sir Degard begins — 

* Lystenyth, lordynges, gente and fre, 
Y wylle yow telle of syr Degare.' 

Warton well remarks — * This address to the lordings, requesting their 
silence and attention, is a manifest indication that these ancient pieces 
were originally sung to the harp, or recited before grand assemblies, 
upon solemn occasions'; Obs. on F. Queene, p. 248. 

1904. solas, mirth. See Prol. 1. 798. 'This word is often used in 
describing the festivities of elder days. " She and her ladyes called for 
their minstrells, and solaced themselves with the disports of dauncing " ; 
Leland, Collectanea, v. 352. So in the Romance of Ywaine and 
Gawin : — 

"Full grete and gay was the assemble 
Of lordes and ladies of that cuntre. 
And als of knyghtes war and wyse. 
And damisels of mykel pryse ; 
Ilkane with other made grete gamen 
And grete solace, &c."' (1. 19, ed. Ritson). 

Todd's lUust. of Chaucer, p. nZ. 

1905. gent, gentle, gallant. Often applied to ladies, in the sense of 
pretty. The first stanzas in Sir Isumbras and Sir Eglamour are much 
in the same strain as this stanza, 

1910. Popcrhig. ' Poppering, or Poppeling, was the name of a 
parish in the Marches of Calais. Our famous antiquary Leland was 
once rector of it. See Tanner, Bib. Brit, in v. Leland.' — Tyrwhitt. 
Here Calais means the district, not the town. Poperingc has a popu- 
lation of about 10,500, and is situate about 26 miles S. by W. from 
Ostend, in the province of Belgium called West Flanders, very near 
the French ' marches,' or border. Ypres (see A. 448) is close beside 
it. place, the mansion or chief house in the town. Dr. Pegge, 
in his Kentish Glossary, (Eng. Dial. Soc), has — '■Place, that is, the 
manor-house. Heame, in his pref. to Antiq. of Glastonbury, p. xv, 
speaks of a manour-place' He refers also to Strype's Annals, 
cap. XV. 

1915. payndefnayn. ' The very finest and the whitest [kind of bread] 
that was known, was sivinel-bread, which .... was as commonly 
known under the name of pain-demayn (afterwards corrupted into 
[paznmaifi or] payiiian) ; a word which has given considerable trouble 
to Tyrwhitt and other commentators on Chaucer, but which means no 

LI. 1902-24.] THE TALE OF SIR THOPAS. 185 

more than " bread of our Lord," from the figure of our Saviour, or the 
Virgin Mary, impressed upon each round flat loaf, as is still the usage 
in Belgium with respect to certain rich cakes much admired there ' ; 
Chambers, Book of Days, i. 119. The Liber Albus (ed. Riley, p. 305) 
speaks of '■demesne bread, known as demeine^ which Mr. Riley anno- 
tates by — 'Pants Domimats. Simnels made of the very finest flour 
were thus called, from an impression upon them of the efiigy of our 
Saviour.' Tyrwhitt refers to the poem of the Freiris of Berwick, in the 
Maitland MS., in which occur the expressions breid of nuuie and 
inane breid. It occurs also in Sir Degrevant (Thornton Romances, 

p. 235):— , .. , 

'^ '^•' ' Payneniayn prevayly 

Sche brou3th fram the pantry,' (S:c. 

It is mentioned as a delicacy by Gower, Conf. Amantis, bk. vi. (ed. 
Pauli, iii. 22). 

1917. rode, complexion, scarlet in grayn, i. e. scarlet dyed in 
grain, or of a fast colour. Properly, to dye in grain meant to dye 
with grain, i.e. with cochineal. In fact, Chaucer uses the phrase 
'with grey n^ in the epilogue to the Nonne Prestes Tale; B. 4649. 
See the long note in Marsh's Lectures on the English Language, 
ed. Smith, pp. 54-62, and the additional note on p. 64. Cf. Shak. 
Tw. Nt. i. 5. 255. 

1920. saffroim ; i. e. of a yellow colour. Cf. Bottom's description of 
beards — 'I will discharge it in either your straw-colour beard, your 
orange-tawney beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your P'rench- 
crown-colour hc-Ax^, your perfect yellow'' ', Mids. Nt. Dr. i. 2. In 
Lybeaus Disconus (ed. Ritson, Met. Rom. ii. 6, or ed. Kaluza, 1. 139) 
a dwarfs beard is described as 'yelow as ony wax.' 

1924. ciclatoicn, a costly material. From the O. Fr. ciclaton, the 
name of a costly cloth. [It was early confused with the Latin cyclas, 
which Ducange explains by * vestis species, et panni genus.' The word 
cyclas occurs in Juvenal (Sat. vi. 259), and is explained to mean a 
robe worn most often by women, and adorned with a border of gold 
or purple ; see also Propertius, iv. 7. 40.] Ciclatoicn, however, is of 
Eastern origin, as was well suggested in the following note by Col. 
Yule in his edition of Marco Polo, i. 249 :— 

' The term sukldt is applied in the Punjab trade-returns to broad- 
cloth. Does not this point to the real nature of the siclatoiin of the 
Middle Ages ? It is, indeed, often spoken of as used for banners, which 
implies that it was not a heavy woollen. But it was also a material for 
ladies' robes, for quilts, leggings, housings, pavilions. IVIichel does not 
decide what it was, only that it was generally red and wrought with 
gold. Dozy renders it " silk stuff brocaded with gold," but this seems 
conjectural. Dr. Rock says it was a thin glossy silken stuff, often with 
a woof of gold thread, and seems to derive it from the Arabic sakl, 
"polishing" (a sword), which is improbable.' Compare the following 
examples, shewing its use for tents, banners, &c. : — 



' Off silk, cendale, and syclatoun 

Was the emperoLirs pavyloun ' ; . . . 
' Kyng Richard took the pavylouns 
Off sendels and off sykelatotms ' ; 

Rich. Coer de Lion (Weber, ii. 90 and 201). 
'There was mony gonfanoun 
Of gold, sendel, and siclatoiin'' \ 

Kyng Alisaunder (Weber, i. 85). 

Richardson's Pers. and Arab. Diet. (ed. Johnson, 1829), p. 837, gives : 
* Pers. saqiatun, scarlet cloth (whence Arab, siqldf, a fine painted or 
figured cloth)'; and the derivation is probably (as given in the New E. 
Diet.) from the very Pers. word which has given us the word scarlet; 
so that it was originally named from its colour. It was afterwards 
applied to various kinds of costly materials, which were sometimes 
embroidered with gold. See Ciclatoit in Godefroy, and in the New E. 
Diet. ; and Scarlet in my Etym. Dictionary. 

The matter has been much confused by a mistaken notion of 
Spenser's. Not observing that Sir Thopas is here described in his 
robes oi peace ^ not in those of war (as in a later stanza), he followed 
Thynne's spelling, viz. chekelatoun, and imagined this to mean ' that 
kind of guilded leather with which they [the Irish] use to em- 
broder theyr Irish jackes'; View of the State of Ireland, in Globe 
edition, p. 639, col. 2. And this notion he carried out still more boldly 
in the lines— 

' But in a jacket, quilted richly rare 
Upon cheklatott, he was straungely dight'; 

F. Q. vi. 7. 43. 

1925. Jane, a small coin. The word is known to be a corruption of 
Genoa, which is spelt y^a;/^ in Hall's Chronicles, fol. xxiv. So too we 
find Janiieys and Jamiaycs for Genoese. See Bardsley's English Sur- 
names, s. V. Janezvay. Stow, in his Survey of London, ed. 1599, p. 97, 
says that some foreigners lived in Minchin Lane, who had come from 
Genoa, and were commonly called galley-men, who landed wines, <S:c. 
from the galleys at a place called 'galley-key' in Thames Street. 
'They had a certaine coyne of silver amongst themselves, which were 
half-pence of Genoa, and were called galley half-pence. These half- 
pence were forbidden in the 13th year of Henry IV, and again by 
parliament in the 3rd of Henry V, by the name of half-pence of Genoa. 
. . . Notwithstanding, in my youth, I have seen them passe currant,' 
&c. Chaucer uses the word again in the Clerkes Tale (E. 999), and 
Spenser adopted it from Chaucer; F. Q. iii. 7. 58. Mr. Wright 
observes that ' the siclaton was a rich cloth or silk brought from the 
East, and is therefore appropriately mentioned as bought with Genoese 

1927. y<?r riveer, towards the river. This appears to be the best 
reading, and we must l^k-tfor in close connexion with 7yde ; perhaps it 

LI. 1925-42.] THE TALE OF SIR THOPAS. 187 

is a mere imitation of the French en riviere. It alludes to the common 
practice of seeking the river-side, because the best sport, in hawking, 
was with herons and waterfowl. Tyrwhitt quotes from Froissart, v. i. 
c. 140 — ' Le Comte de Flandres estoit tousjours en riviere — un jour 
advint qu'il alia voller en la riviere — et getta son fauconnier un faucon 
apres le heron! And again, in c. 210, he says that Edward III 'alloit, 
chacun jour, ou en chace on en riviere^ &c. So we read of Sir 
Eglamour:— ,55^ Eglamore tooke the way 
to the riu^r ffull right ' ; 

Percy Folio MS. ii. 347. 
Of Ipomydon's education we learn that his tutor taught him to sing, to 
read, to serve in hall, to carve the meat, and 

' Bothe of howndis and haukis game 
Aftir he taught hym, all and same. 
In se, in feld, and eke in ryitcre, 
In wodde to chase the wild dere. 
And in the feld to ryde a stede, 
That all men had joy of his dede.' 

Weber's Met. Romances, ii. 283. 
See also the Squire of Low Degree, in Ritson, vol. iii. p. 177. 

1931. ram, the usual prize at a wrestling match. Cf. Gk. rpaycodla. 
stonde, i. e. be placed in the sight of the competitors ; be seen. Cf. 
Prol. A. 548, and the Tale of Gamelyn, 172. Tyrwhitt says— ' Mat- 
thew Paris mentions a wrestling-match at Westminster, A. D. 1222, in 
which a ram was the prize, p. 265.' Cf. also — 

* At wresteling, and at ston-castynge 
He wan the pr>'s without lesynge,' &c. ; 

Octouian Imperator, in Weber's Met. Rom. iii. 194. 

1933. paramour, longingly ; a common expression ; see the Glossary. 

1937. hepe, mod. E. ' hip,' the fruit of the dog-rose ; A. S. hcope. 

1938. Compare— 'So hyt be-felle upon a day'; Erie of Tolous, 
Ritson's Met. Rom. iii. 134. Of course it is a common phrase in these 

1941. worth, lit. became ; worth upon=htC3Lxne upon, got upon. It 
is a common phrase ; compare — 

' Ipomydon sterte vp that tyde ; 
Anon he worthyd vppon his stede ' ; 

Weber, Met. Rom. ii. 334. 

1942. launcegay, a sort of lance. Gower has the word, Conf. Amant. 
bk. viii. (ed. Pauli, iii. 369). Cowel says its use was prohibited by the 
statute of 7 Rich. II, cap. 13. Camden mentions it in his Remaines, 
p. 209. Tyrwhitt quotes, from Rot. Pari. 29 Hen. VI, n. 8, the fol- 
lowing — * And the said Evan then and there with a laiincegaye smote 
the said William Tresham throughe the body a foote and more, 
wherof he died.' Sir Walter Raleigh (quoted by Richardson) says — 


* These carried a kind of lance dc gay, sharp at both ends, which they 
held in the midst of the staff.' But this is certainly a corrupt form. It 
is no doubt a corruption of lancezagay, from the Spanish azagaya, 
a word of Moorish origin. Cotgrave gives — ' Zagaye, a fashion of 
slender, long, and long-headed pike, used by the Moorish horsemen.' 
It seems originally to have been rather a short weapon, a kind of 
half-pike or dart. The Spanish word is well discussed in Dozy, Glos- 
saire des mots Espagnols et Portugais derives de I'Arabe, 2nd ed. p. 225. 
The Spanish azagaya is for az-zagaya, where az is for the definite 
article al, and zagaya is a Berber or Algerian word, not given in the 
Arabic dictionaries. It is found in Old Spanish of the fourteenth 
century. Dozy quotes from a writer who explains it as a Moorish 
half-pike, and also gives the following passage from Laugier de Tassy, 
Hist, du royaume d'Alger, p. 58 — ' Leurs amies sont Vazagaye, qui est 
une espece de la7icc coiirte, qu'ils portent toujours a la main.' The 
Caffre word assagai, in the sense of javelin, was simply borrowed 
from the Portuguese azagaia. 

1949. a sory care, a grievous misfortune. Chaucer does not say what 
this was, but a passage in Amis and Amiloun (ed. Weber, ii. 410) makes 
it probable that Sir Thopas nearly killed his horse, which would have 
been grievous indeed; see 1. 1965 below. The passage I allude to is 
as follows : — 

'So long he priked, withouten abod, 
The stede that he on rode, 

In a fer cuntray, 
Was ouercomen and fel doun ded ; 
Tho couthe he no better red \cou7iser\ ; 
His song was " waileway ! " ' 

Readers of Scott will remember Fitz-James's lament over his ' gallant 

1950. This can hardly be other than a burlesque upon the Squire 
of Low Degree (ed. Ritson, iii. 146), where a long list of trees is followed 
up, as here, by a list of singing-birds. Compare also the Romaunt of 
the Rose, 1. 1367 : — 

' There was eek wexing many a spyce, 
As clow-gelofre and licoryce, 
Gingere, and greyn de paradys, 
Canelle, and seiewale of prys,' &c. 

Observe the mention oi noiemigges in the same, 1. 1361.' 
Line 21 of the Milleres Tale (A. 3207) runs similarly: — 

' Of licorys or any setewale.' 

Maundeville speaks of the cloive-gilofre and noteniuge in his 26th 
chapter; see Specimens of E. Eng. ed. Morris and Skeat, p. 171. 
Cetewale is generally explained as the herb valerian, but is certainly 
zedoary ; see the Glossary. Clowe-giio/re, a clove ; noictnuge, a nut- 

LI. 1949-78.] THE TALE OF SIR THOPAS. 189 

meg. ' Spiced ale ' is amongst the presents sent by Absolon to Alisoun 
in the Milleres Tale (A. 337S). Cf. the list of spices in King Alisaunder, 
ed. Weber, 6790-9. 

1955, /eye in cofre, to lay in a box. 

1956. Compare Amis and Amiloun, ed. Weber, ii. 391 : — 

'She herd the foules g^ete and smale, 
The swete note of the nightingale, 
Ful mirily sing on tre.' 

See also Romaunt of the Rose, 11. 613-728. But Chaucer's burlesque is 
far surpassed by a curious passage in the singular poem of The Land of 
Cockaygne (MS. Harl. 913), 11. 71-100: — 

' In ])e praer ymeadonv^ is a tre 
S\vi|)e likful for to se. 
pe rote is gingeuir and galingale, 
pe siouns be}) al sed^e^walc ; 
Trie maces be]) ))e flure ; 
pe rind, canel of swet odur ; 
pe frute, gilofre of gode smakke, &c. 

per be)) briddes mani and fale, 
\>rostti, |)ruisse, and ni3tingale, 
Chalandre and wod[e]\vale, 
And o))er briddes \viJ)out tale [nw>iber\ 
pat stinte)) neuer by har mijt 
Miri to sing[e] dai and ni5t,' &c. 

1964. as he ivere wood, as if he were mad, ' like mad.' So in Amis 
and Amiloun (ed. Weber), ii. 419: — 

' He priked his stede night and day 
As a gentil knight, stout and gay.' 

Cf. note to 1. 1949. 

1974. seinte, being feminine, and in the vocative case, is certainly 
a dissyllable here — *0 seint^ Mdrie, ben'cite.^ Cf. note to B. 11 70 

1977. Me dremed, I dreamt. Both dremeft (to dream) and vieten 
(also to dream) are sometimes used with a dative case and reflexively 
in Old English. In the Nonne Prestes Tale we have vie meite (1. 74) 
and this 7nan incite (1. 182) ; B. 4084, 4192. 

1978. An eif-queen. Mr. Price says—' There can be little doubt that 
atone period the popular creed made the same distinctions between the 
Queen of Faerie and the Elf-queen that were observed in Grecian 
mythology between their undoubted parallels, Artemis and Persephone.' 
Chaucer makes Proserpine the 'queen of faerie' in his Marchauntes 
Tale ; but at the beginning of the Wyf of Bathes Tale, he describes the 
elf -queen as the queen oi'Ca^ fairies, and makes elf a.ndi fairy synony- 
mous. Perhaps this elf queen in Sire Thopas (called the queen of 

fairye in 1. 2004) may have given Spenser the hint for his Faerie 


Quecne. But the subject is a vast one. See Price's Preface, in 
Warton's Hist. Eng. Poetry, ed. Ilazlitt, pp. 30-36 ; Halliwell's Illus- 
trations of Fairy Mythology ; Keightley's Fairy Mythology ; Warton's 
Observations on the Faerie Queene, sect, ii ; Sir W. Scott's ballad of 
Thomas the Rhymer, &c. 

1979. joider my gore, within my robe or garment. In 1. 2107 (on 
which see the note) we have leuder toede signifying merely ' in his 
dress.' We have a somewhat similar phrase here, in which, however, 
gore (lit. gusset) is put for the whole robe or garment. That it was 
a mere phrase, appears from other passages. Thus we find under 
gore, under the dress, Owl and Nightingale, 1. 51 5 ; Reliquiae Antiquae, 
vol. i. p. 244, vol. ii. p. 210; with three more examples in the Gloss. 
to Boddeker's Altenglische Dichtungen des MS. Harl. 2253. In one 
of these a lover addresses his lady as ' geynest under gore,' i. e. fairest 
within a dress. For the exact sense oi gore, see note to A. 3237, 

1983. In tonne, in the town, in the district. But it must not be 
supposed that much sense is intended by this inserted line. It is a mere 
tag, in imitation of some of the romances. Either Chaucer has 
neglected to conform to the new kind of stanza which he now introduces 
(which is most likely), or else three lines have been lost before this one. 
The next three stanzas are longer, viz. of ten lines each, of which only 
the seventh is very short. For good examples of these short lines, see 
Sir Gawayne and the Greene Kny^t, ed. Morris ; and for a more exact 
account of the metres here employed, see vol. iii. p. 425. 

1993. So li'ilde. Instead of this short line, Tyrwhitt has : — 

'Wherin he soughte North and South, 
And oft he spied with his mouth 
In many a forest wilde.' 

But none of our seven MSS. agrees with this version, nor are these 
lines found in the black-letter editions. The notion of spying with 
one's viouth seems a little too far-fetched. 

1995. This line is supplied from MS. Reg. 17 D. 15, where Tyrwhitt 
found it ; but something is so obviously required here, that we must 
insert it to make some sense. It suits the tone of the context to 
say that ' neither wife nor child durst oppose him.' We may, however, 
bear in mind that the meeting of a knight-errant with one of these 
often preceded some great adventure. ' And in the midst of an 
highway he [Sir Lancelot] met a damsel riding on a white palfrey, and 
there either saluted other. Fair damsel, said Sir Lancelot, know 
ye in this country any adventures ? Sir knight, said that damsel, here 
are adventures near hand, and thou durst prove them ' ; Sir T. 
Malory, Morte Arthur, bk. vi. cap. vii. The result was that Lancelot 
fought with Sir Turquine, and defeated him. Soon after, he was 
'required of a damsel to heal her brother '; and again, 'at the request 
of a lady ' he recovered a falcon ; an adventure which ended in a fight, as 
usual. Kolbing points out a parallel line in Sir Guy of Warwick, 45-6: — 

LI. 1979-2000] THE TALE OF SIR THOPAS. 191 

* In all Englond ne was ther none 
That durste in wrath ayenst hym goon'; 

Caius MS., ed. Zupitza, p. 5. 

1998. OH/mint, i.e. Elephant ; a proper name, as Tyrwhitt observes, 
for a giant. Maundeville has the form olyfauntes for elephatiis. By 
some confusion the Moeso-Goth. ulbandtcs and A.S. olfcnd are made 
to signify a camel. Spenser has put Chaucer's OUfatitit into his Faerie 
Queene, bk. iii. c. 7. st. 48, and makes him the brother of the giantess 
Argant^, and son of Typhoeus and Earth. The following description 
of a giant is from Libius Disconius (Percy Folio MS. vol. ii. p. 465) :^ 

' He beareth haires on his brow 
Like the bristles of a sow, 

His head is great and stout; 
Eche arme is the lenght of an ell, 
His fists beene great and fell. 
Dints for to driue about.' 
Sir Libius says : — 

* If God will me grace send. 
Or this day come to an end 
I hope him for to spill,' &c. 

Another giant, 20 feet long, and 2 ells broad, with two boar's tusks, 
and also with brows like bristles of a swine, appears in Octouian 
Imperator, ed. Weber, iii. 196. See also the alliterative Morte Arthure, 
ed. Brock, p. 33. 

2000. child ; see note to 1. 2020. Terviagaunt ; one of the idols 
whom the Saracens (in the medieval romances) are supposed to 
worship. See The King of Tars, ed. Ritson (Met. Rom., ii. 174-182), 
where the Sultan's gods are said to be Jubiter, Jovin (both forms of 
Jupiter), Astrot (Astarte), Mahoun (Mahomet), Appolin (Apollo), 
Plotoun (Pluto), and Tirmagauiit. Lybeaus Disconus (Ritson, Met. 
Rom. ii. 55) fought with a giant ' that levede yn Termagaunt.' The 
Old French form is Tervagatii, Ital. Te7i.fagante or Trivigante^ as in 
Ariosto. Wheeler, in his Noted Names of Fiction, gives the following 
account — ' Ugo Foscolo says : " Trtvtgante, whom the predecessors of 
Ariosto always couple with Apollino, is really Diana Trivia, the sister 
of the classical Apollo." .... According to Panizzi, Trivagante or 
TcTvagante is the ^loon, or Diana, or Hecate, wandering under three 
names. Termagant was an imaginary being, supposed by the crusaders, 
who confounded Mahometans with pagans, to be a Mahometan deity. 
This imaginary personage was introduced into early English plays and 
moralities, and was represented as of a most violent character, so that 
a ranting actor might always appear to advantage in it. See Hamlet, 
iii. 2. 15.' Fairfax, in his translation of Tasso (c. i. st. 84), speaks of 
Termagaunt and Mahound, but Tasso mentions ' Macometto ' only. 
See also Spenser, F.Q. vi. 7. 47. Hence comes our termagant in the 
sense of a noisy boisterous woman. Shakespeare has — 'that hot 


ter7nagant Scot'; i Hen. IV., v. 2. 114. Cf. Ritson's note, Met. Rom. 
iii. 257. 

2002. slee, will slay. In Anglo-Saxon, there being no distinct future 
tense, it is expressed by the present. Cf. go for will go in ' we also go 
with thee'; John xxi. 3. 

2005. simphonye, the name of a kind of tabor. In Ritson's Ancient 
Songs, i. Ixiv., is a quotation from Hawkins's Hist, of Music, ii. 284, 
in which that author cites a passage from Batman's translation 
of Bartholomaeus de Proprietatibus Rerum, to the effect that the 
sy7)ipho7iie was ' an instrument of musyke . . . made of an holowe tree 
[i.e. piece of wood], closyd in lether in eyther syde ; and mynstrels 
beteth it with styckes.' Probably the sy7>iphangle was the same 
instrument. In Rob. of Brunne's Handlyng Synne, 11. 4772-3, we 

' Yn harpe, yn thabour, and sy77ipha7igle, 
Wurschepe God, yn trumpes and sautre.' 

Godefroy gives the O.F. spellings ctfo7iie, sipho7iie, chifonie, cinfonie, 
cy7/ipho7iie, &c. ; all clearly derived from the Greek trvficpavia ; see 
Luke, XV. 25. Cf. Squyre of Lowe Degre, 1070-7. 

2007. also 77iote I thee, as I may thrive ; or, as I hope to thrive ; 
a common expression. Cf. 'So mote y thee'; Sir Eglamour, ed. 
Halliwell, 1. 430 ; Occleve, De Regimine Principum, st. 620. Chaucer 
also uses ' so thee ik,' i. e. so thrive I, in the Reves Prologue (A. 3864) 
and elsewhere. 

2012. Abye7i itful soure, very bitterly shalt thou pay for it. There 
is a confusion between A. S. st'cr, sour, and A. S. sdr, sore, in this and 
similar phrases ; both were used once, but now we should use sorely, 
not sourly. In Layamon, 1. 8158, we find ']>ou salt it sore abugge,' 
thou shalt sorely payfor it ; on the other hand, we find in P. Plowman, 
B. ii. 140: — 

' It shal bisitte 5owre soules • ful soure atte laste.' 

So also in the C-text, though the A-text has sore. Note that in another 
passage, P. Plowman, B. xviii. 401, the phrase is — * Thow shalt abye 
it biitrel For abye7t, see the Glossary. 

2^\'i. fully pry7/ie. See note to Nonne PrestesTale, B. 4045. Pri77ie 
commonly means the period from 6 to 9 a.m. Fully prwte refers to 
the end of that period, or 9 a.m. ; and even prt77ie alone may be used 
with the same explicit meaning, as in the Nonne Pres. Ta., B. 4387. 

2019. staf-sli/ige. Tyrwhitt observes that Lydgate describes David 
as armed only ' with a staffe-slynge, voyde of plate and mayle.' It 
certainly means a kind of sling in which additional power was gained 
by fastening the lithe part of it on to the end of a stiff stick. Staff- 
slyngeres are mentioned in the romance of Richard Coer de Lion, 
1. 4454, in Weber's Metrical Romances, ii. 177. In Col. Yule's edition 
of Marco Polo, ii. 122, is a detailed description of the artillery engines 
of the middle ages. They can all be reduced to two classes ; those 



which, like the trebuchet and mangonel, are enlarged staff-slings, and 
those which, like the arblast and springold, are great cross-bows. 
Conversely, we might describe a staff-sling as a hand-trebuchet. 

2020. child Thopas. Child is an appellation given to both knights 
and squires, in the early romances, at an age when they had long passed 
the period which we now call childhood. A good example is to be 
found in the Erie of Tolous, ed. Ritson, iii. 123 :— 

* He was a feyre chylde, and a bolde, 
Twenty wyntiir he was oolde, 
In londe was none so free.' 

Compare Romance of ' Horn Childe and Maiden Rimnild,' pr. in 
Ritson, iii. 282 ; the ballad of Childe Waters, &c. Byron, in his preface 
to Childe Harold, says — 'It is almost superfluous to mention that the 
appellation ** Childe," as " Childe Waters," " Childe Childers," &c., is 
used as more consonant with the old structure of versification which 
I have adopted.' He adopts, however, the late and artificial metre of 

2023. A palpable imitation. The first three lines of Sir Bevis of 
Hampton (MS. Camb. Univ. Lib. Ff. ii. 38, leaf 94, back) are — 

'Lordynges, lystenyth, grete and smale, 
Meryar then the nyghtytigale 
I wylle yow synge. 

In a long passage in Todd's Illustrations to Chaucer, pp. 284-292, it 
is contended that viery signifies sweet, pleasant, agreeable, without 
relation to mirth. Chaucer describes the Frere as wanton and jnerry, 
Prol. A. 208 ; he speaks of the merry day, Kn. Ta. 641 (A. 1499) ; 
a tnerry city, N. P. Ta. 25 1 (B. 4261 ) ; of Arcite being told by Mercury to 
be 7nerry, i.e. of good cheer, Kn. Ta. 528 (A. 13S6); in the Manciple's 
Tale (H. 138), the crow sings merrily, and makes a sweet noise; 
Chanticleer's voice was merrier than the merry organ, N. P. Ta. 31 
(B. 4041 ) ; the ' erbe yve' is said to be ?nerry, i. e. pleasant, agreeable, 
id. 146 (B.4156) ; the Pardoner (Prol. A. 714) sings merrily ZlVl^ loud. 
We must remember, however, that the Host, being 'a 7nery 
man,* began to speak of 'tnirthe^; Prol. A. 757, 759. A ver>' early 
example of the use of the word occurs in the song attributed to 
Canute — ^ Merie sungen the Muneches binnen Ely,' «S:c. See the 
phrase * tnery men ' in 1. 2029. 

2028. The phrase to come to totine seems to mean no more than 
simply to return. Cf. Specimens of E. Eng., ed. Morris and Skeat, 
p. 45 'Lenten ys come wij) loue to ioutte' — • 

which merely means that spring, with its thoughts of love, has returned. 
See the note on that line. 

2034. for paramotcr, for love ; but the/^r, or else the /or, is redun- 
dant, lolite, amusement ; used ironically in the Kn. Ta. 949 (A. 1807). 

Sir Thopas is going to fight the giant for the love and amusement of 

* * * ^ 


one who shone full bright ; i.e. a fair lady, of course. But Sir Thopas, 
in dropping this mysterious hint to his merry men, refrains from saying 
much about it, as he had not yet seen the Fairy Queen, and had only 
the giant's word for her place of abode. The use of the past tense shone 
is artful ; it implies that he wished them to think that he had seen his 
lady-love ; or else that her beauty was to be taken for granted. 
Observe, too, that it is Sir Thopas, not Chancer, who assigns to the 
giant his three heads. 

2035. Do come, cause to come ; go and call hither. Cf. House 
of Fame, 1. 1197 : — 

' Of alle maner of viinstrales, 

And gestiours, that iellcn tales 

Bothe of weping and of gained 

Tyrwhitt's note on gestotirs is — ' The proper business of a gestour 
was to recite tales, or gestes ; which was only one of the branches of the 
Minstrel's profession. Minstrels and gestotirs are mentioned together 
in the following lines from William of Nassyngton's Translation of 
a religious treatise by John of Waldby; MS. Reg. 17 C. viii. p. 2 : — 

I warne you furst at the beginninge, 

That I will make no vain carpinge 

Of dedes of armys ne of amours, 

As dus jriynstrelles and jestours, 

That makys carpinge in many a place 

Of Octoviane and Isembrase, 

And of many other jestes, 

And namely, whan they come to festes ; 

Ne of the life of Bevys of Hampton, 

That was a knight of gret renoun, 

Ne of Sir Gye of Warwyke, 

All if it might sum men lyke, &c. 

I cite these lines to shew the species of tales related by the ancient 
Gestours, and how much they differed from what we now call^Vj/^'.* 

The word geste here means a tale of the adventures of some hero, 
like those in the Chansons de geste. Cf. note tol. 2123 below. Some- 
times the plural gestes signifies passages of history. The famous 
collection called the Gesta Romanorum contains narratives of very 
various kinds. 

2038. royales, royal ; some MSS. spell the word reales, but the 
meaning is the same. In the romance of Ywain and Gawain (Ritson, 
vol. i.) a maiden is described as reading * a real romance.' Tyrwhitt 
thinks that the term originated with an Italian collection of romances 
relating to Charlemagne, which began with the words — ' Qui se comenza 
la hystoria el Real di Franz a,' Sic. ; edit. Mutinae, 1491, folio. It was 
reprinted in 1537, with a title beginning — ^ I reali di Franza,' &c. He 
refers to Quadrio, t. vi. p. 530. The word roial (in some MSS. real) 

LI. 3035-53] THE TALE OF SIR THOPAS. 195 

occurs again in 1. 2043. Kolbing remarks that the prose romance of 
Generides is called a royal historie, though it has nothing to do with 

2043. No comma is required at the end of this line ; the articles 
mentioned in 11. 2044-6 all belong to spicery. Cf. additional note to 
Troilus, vol. ii. p. 506. 

2047. dide, did on, put on. The arming of Lybcaus Disconus is thus 
described in Ritson's Met. Rom. ii. 10 : — 

'They caste on hym a scherte of selk, 
A gypell as whyte as melk, 

In that semely sale ; 
And syght {for sith] an hawbcrk bryght, 
That rychely was adyght 

Wyth mayles thykke and smale.' 

2048. /a,f(?, linen ; see Glossary. 'De panno delake'; York Wills, 
iii. 4 (anno 1395). 

2050. akeioun, a short sleeveless tunic. Cf. Liber Albus, p. 376. 

'And Florentyn, with hys ax so broun, 

All thorgh he smoot 
Arm and mayle, and akkeiottn, 
Thorghout hyt bot [bity-, 

Octouian, ed. Weber, iii. 205. 

'For plate, ne for acketion, 
For hauberk, ne for campeson ' ; 

Richard Coer de Lion, ed. Weber, ii. 18. 

The Glossary to the Percy Folio MS., ed. Hales and Fumivall, has — 
''Acton, a wadded or quilted tunic worn under the hauberk. — PlatichS, 
i. 108.' Thynne, in his Animadversions {Early Eng. Te.\t Soc), p. 24, 
says — ^ Haketon is a slevelesse jackett of plate for the warre, couered 
withe anye other stuffe ; at this day also called a jackett of plated 

It is certain that the plates were a later addition. It is the mod. F. 
JioqiietoUy O. F. auquet07i ; and it is certain that the derivation is from 
Arab, al-qoton or al-qttiun, lit. ' the cotton ' ; so that it was originally 
made of quilted cotton. See auqueton in Godefroy, hoqueton in 
Devic's Supp. to Littre, and Acton in the New E. Diet. 

205L habergeoiin, coat of mail. See Prol. A. 'jd, and the note. 

2052. For percinge, as a protection against the piercing. So in 
P. Plowman, B. vi. 62, Piers puts on his cuffs, ' for colde of his nailles,' 
i. e. as a protection against the cold. So too in the Rom. of the Rose, 
1. 4229. 

2053. The hauberk is here put on as an upper coat of mail, of finer 
workmanship and doubtless more flexible. 

' The hauberk was al reed of rust, 
His platys thykke and swythe just'; 

Octouian, ed. Weber, iii. 200. 



'He was armed wonder weel, 
* And al with plates off good steel, 
And iJtcr nbovcn, an Jiaivbej'k'; 

Richard Coer de Lion, ed. Weber, ii. 222. 

2054. Jeiucs ivcrk, Jew's work. Tyrwhitt imagined that Jew here 
means a magician, but there is not the least foundation for the idea. 
Mr. Jephson is equally at fault in connecting y^'w wnth jewel, since the 
latter word is ctymologically connected with joy. The phrase still re- 
mains unexplained. I suspect it means no more than wrought with rich 
or expensive work, such as Jews could best find the money for. It is 
notorious that they were the chief capitalists, and they must often have 
had to find money for paying armourers. Or, indeed, it may refer to 
damascened work ; from the position of Damascus. 

2055. plate. Probably the hauberk had a breastplate on the front 
of it. But on the subject of armour, I must refer the reader to Godwin's 
English Archaeologist's Handbook, pp. 252-268 ; Planche's History of 
British Costume, and Sir S. R. Meyrick's Observations on Body-armour, 
in the Archaeologia, vol. xix. pp. 120-145. 

2056. The cote-armour was not for defence, but a mere surcoat on 
which the knight's armorial bearings were usually depicted, in order to 
identify him in the combat or * debate.' Hence the modem coat-of- 

2059. reed, red. In the Romances, gold is always called red, and 
silver wJiite. Hence it was not unusual to liken gold to blood, 
and this explains why Shakespeare speaks of armour being gilt 
with blood (King John, ii. i. 316), and makes Lady Macbeth talk of 
gilding the groom's faces with blood (Macbeth, ii. 2. 56). See also 
Coriol. v. I. 63, 64 ; and the expression ' blood bitokeneth gold '; Cant. 
Tales, D. 581. 

2060. Cf. Libeaus Desconus, ed. Kaluza, 1657-8 • — 

'His scheld was asur fin, 
Thre bores heddes ther-inne.' 

And see the editor's note, at p. 201. 

206L 'A carbuncle (Fr. escarboucle) was a common [armorial] 
bearing. See Guillim's Heraldry, p. 109.' — Tyrwhitt. 

2062. Sir Thopas is made to swear by ale and bread, in ridiculous 
imitation of the vows made by the swan, the heron, the pheasant, or 
the peacock, on solemn occasions. 

2065. lambeux, armour worn in front of the shins, above the mail- 
armour that covered the legs ; see Fairholt. He tells us that, in Roach 
Smith's Catalogue of London Antiquities, p. 132, is figured a pair of 
cuirbouilly jambeux, which are fastened by thongs. Spenser borrows 
the word, but spells \i giatnbeitx, F. Q. ii. 6. 29. 

quirboilly, i. e. cuir bouilli, leather soaked in hot water to soften it 
that it might take any required shape, after which it was dried and 
became exceedingly stiff and hard. In Matthew Paris (anno 1243) it is 

LI. 2054-68.] THE TALE OF SIR THOPAS. 197 

said of the Tartars— *De coriis buUitis sibi arma leuia quidem, sed 
tamen impenetrabilia coaptarunt.' In Marco Polo, ed Yule, ii. 49, it is 
said of the men of Carajan, that they wear armour of boiled leather 
(French text, arvtes ciiiraces de ctiir bouilli). Froissart (v. iv. cap, 19) 
says the Saracens covered their targes with ^ cia'r bouilli de Cappadoce, 
ou nul fer ne pent prendre n'attacher, si le cuir n'est trop dchaufe.' 
When Bruce reviewed his troops on the morning of the battle of 
Bannockburn, he wore, according to Barbour, ' ane hat of qwyrbolle ' 
on his ' basnet,' and ' ane hye croune ' above that. Some remarks on 
cuir bouilli will be found in Cutts, Scenes and Characters of the Middle 
Ages, p. 344. 

2068. rewel-boon, probably whale-ivory, or ivory made of whales' 
teeth. In the Turnamentof Tottenham, as printed in Percy's reliques, 
we read that Tyb had ' a garland on her hed ful of rounde bonys,' where 
another copy has (says Halliwell, s. v. ruel) the reading—* fulle oiruelle- 
bones.' Halliwell adds—' In the romaunce of Rembrun, p. 458, the 
coping of a wall is mentioned as made * of fin ruival, that schon swithe 
brighte.' And in MS. Camb. Univ. Lib. Ff. v. 48, fol. 119, is the 

" *' * Hir sadilk was of rcuyllc-bone, 

Semely was \a\. sight to se, 
Stifly sette w/t^ pr<?cious ston^, 

Compaste about w/tA crapote \toad-stonc\^ 

In Sir Degrevant, 1429, a roof is said to be — 

* buskyd above 
With besauntus ful brj'ghth, 
All of ruel-bo7i,' Sec. 

Quite near the beginning of the Vie de Seint Auban, ed. Atkinson, we 

*mes ne ert d'or adubbee, ne d'autre metal, 
de peres preciuses, de ivoire ne roal'; 

i.e. but it was not adorned with gold nor other metal, nor with precious 
stones, nor ivory, nor rewel. Du Cange gives a Low Lat. form 
rohanlum, and an O. Fr. rochal, but tells us that the MS. readings are 
7-oliallum Tindrolial. The passage occurs in the Laws of Normandy 
about wreckage, and should run — ' dux sibi retinet . . . ebur, rohalhan, 
lapides pretiosas'; or, in the French version, * I'ivoire, et le rohal, et 
les pierres precieuses.' Ducange explains the word by 'rock-crystal,' 
but this is a pure guess, suggested by F. roche, a rock. It is clear that, 
when the word is spelt rochal, the ch denotes the same sound as the 
Ger. ch, a guttural resembling h, and not the F. ch at all. Collecting 
all the spellings, we find them to be, in French, rohal, rochal, 7-oal; 
and, in English, ruwal, rewel, ruel, (reuylle, ruelle). The h and w 
might arise from a Teutonic hw, so that the latter part of the word was 
originally -hwal, i.e. whale; hence, perhaps, Godefroy explains F. 
rochal as * ivoire de morse,' ivory of the walrus (A. S. hors-hwcel). The 


true origin seems rather to be some Norse form akin to Norweg. royr- 
kval (E. rorqual). Some whales, as the cachalot, have teeth that afford 
a kind of ivory ; and this is what seems to be alluded to. The expres- 
sion ' white as whale-bone,' i.e. white as whale-ivory, was once common ; 
see Weber's Met. Romances, iii. 350 ; and ivhalcs-bo7iem Nares. Most 
of this ivory was derived, however, from the tusk of the walrus or the 
narwhal. Sir Thopas's saddle was ornamented with ivory. 

2071. cipress, cypress-wood. In the Assembly of Foules, 1. 179, 
we have — 

' The sailing firr, the cipres, dcth to pleyne ' — 

i. e. the cypress suitable for lamenting a death. Vergil calls the cypress 
'atra,' ^En. iii. 64, and 'feralis,' vi. 216; and as it is so frequently 
a symbol of mourning, it may be said to bode war. 

2078. In Sir Degrevant (ed. Halliwell, p. 191) we have just this 
expression — 

* Here endyth the furst fit. 
Howe say ye? will ye any more of hit?' 

2085. love-drury, courtship. All the six MSS. have this reading. 
According to Wright, the Had. MS. has * Of ladys loue and drewery,' 
which Tyrwhitt adopts ; but it turns out that Wright's reading is 
copied froDi Tyrwhitt ; the MS. really has — ' And of ladys loue 
drewery,' like the rest. 

2088. The romance or lay of Horn appears in two forms in English. 
In King Horn, ed. Lumby, Early Eng. Text Soc, 1866, printed also in 
Matzner's Altenglische Sprachproben, i. 207, the form of the poem 
is in short rimed couplets. But Chaucer no doubt refers to the other 
form with the title Horn Childe and Maiden Rimnild, in a metre similar 
to Sir Thopas, printed in Ritson's Metrical Romances, iii. 282. The 
Norman-French text was printed by F. Michel for the Bannatyne Club, 
with the English versions, in a volume entitled — Horn et Riemenhild ; 
Recueil de ce qui reste des poemes relatifs k leurs aventures, &c. Paris, 
1845. See Mr. Lumby's preface and the remarks in Miitzner. 

It is not quite clear why Chaucer should mention the romance of 
Sir Ypotis here, as it has little in common with the rest. There are 
four MS. copies of it in the British Museum, and three at Oxford. ' It 
professes to be a tale of holy writ, and the work of St. John the Evan- 
gelist. The scene is Rome. A child, named Ypotis, appears before the 
Emperor Adrian, saying that he is come to teach men God's law ; 
whereupon the Emperor proceeds to interrogate him as to what is 
God's Law, and then of many other matters, not in any captious spirit, 
but with the utmost reverence and faith. . . . There is a little tract 
in prose on the same legend from the press of Wynkyn de Worde ' ; 
J. W. Hales, in Hazlitt's edition of Warton's Hist, of Eng. Poetr)', 
ii. 183. It was printed in 1881, from the Vernon MS. at Oxford, in 
Horstmann's Altenglische Legenden, Neue Folge, pp. 341-8. It is hard 
to believe that, by Ypotys, Chaucer meant (as some say) Ypomadoun. 

LI. 2071-94-] THE TALE OF SIR THOPAS. 199 

The romance of Sir Bevis of Hampton (i. e. Southampton) was 
printed from the Auchinleck MS. for the Maitland Club in 1838, 4to. 
Another copy is in MS. Ff. 2. 38, in the Cambridge University Library. 
It has lately been edited, from six MS. copies and an old printed text, 
by Prof, Kolbing, for the Early Eng. Text Society. There is an allusion 
in it to the Romans, meaning the French original. It appears in prose 
also, in various forms. See Warton's Hist, of Eng. Poetry, ed. Haz- 
litt, ii. 142, where there is also an account of Sir Guy, in several 
forms ; but a still fuller account of Sir Guy is given in the Percy Folio 
MS., ed. Hales and Furnivall, ii. 509. This Folio MS. itself contains 
three poems on the latter subject, viz. Guy and Amarant, Guy and 
Colbrande, and Guy and Phillis. * Sir Guy of Warwick ' has been 
edited for the Early Eng. Text Society by Prof. Zupitza. 

By Libetix is meant Lybeaus Disconus, printed by Ritson in his 
Metrical Romances, vol. ii. from the Cotton MS. Caligula A. 2. A later 
copy, with the title Libius Disconius, is in the Percy Folio MS. ii. 404, 
where a good account of the romance may be found. The best edition 
is that by Dr. Max Kulaza, entitled Libeaus Desconus ; Leipzig, 1890. 
The French original was discovered in 1855, in a P^IS. belonging to 
the Due d'Aumale. Its title is Li Biaus Desconneus, which signifies 
The Fair Unknown. 

Fleyfidivnour evidently means plein d'amour, full of love, and we 
may suspect that the original romance was in French ; but there is 
now no trace of any romance of that name, though a Sir Playne de 
Amours is mentioned in Sir T. Malory's Morte Darthur, bk. ix. 
c. 7. Spenser probably borrowed hence his Sir Blandamour, 
F. Q. iv. I. 32. 

2092. After examining carefully the rimes in Chaucer's Canterbury 
Tales, Mr. Bradshaw finds that this is the sole instance in which 
a word which ought etymologically to end in -yc is rimed with a word 
ending in -y without a following final t'. A reason for the exception is 
easily found ; for Chaucer has here adopted the swing of the ballad 
metre, and hence ventures to deprive chiuairye of its final e, and to 
call it chivalry so that it may rime with Gy, after the manner of the 
ballad-writers ; cf. Squyre of Lowe Degre, 79, 80. So again chivalrye, 
drury'e become chivahy, drury ; 11. 2084, 2085. We even find/Zaj for 
piac-e, 1971 ; and gras ior grac-e, 2021. 

2094. glood, glided. So in all the MSS. except E., which has the 
poor reading rood, rode. For the expression in 1. 2095, compare — 

* But whenne he was horsede on a stede, 
He sprange als any sparke one [read of] glede * ; 

Sir Isumbras, ed. Halliwell, p. 107. 

' Lybeaus was redy boun, 
And lepte out of the arsoun {bow 0/ the saddle] 
As sperk thogh out of glede ' ; 

Lybeaus Disconus, in Ritson, ii. 27. 


*Then sir Lybius with ffierce hart, 
Out of his saddle swythe he start 
As sparcle doth out of fyer '; 

Percy Folio MS. ii. 440. 

2106. The first few lines of the romance of Sir Perceval of Galles 
(ed. Halliwell, p. i) will at once explain Chaucer's allusion. It 
begins — 

* Lef, lythes to me 
Two wordes or thre 
Of one that was faire and fre 

And felle in his fighte ; 
His right name was Percy vcllc, 
He was fostered in the felle, 
He dratike water of the welley 

And 5itt was he wyghte ! ' 

Both Sir Thopas and Sir Perceval were water-drinkers, but it did not 
impair their vigour. 

In the same romance, p. 84, we find — 

' Of mete ne drj'nke he ne roghte, 

So fulle he was of care ! 
Tille the nynte daye bj-felle 
That he come to a ivelle, 
Ther he was wonte for to duelle 
And drynk take hym thare^ 

These quotations set aside Mr. Jephson's interpretation, and solve 
Tyrwhitt's difficulty. Tyrwhitt says that ' The Romance of Perceval 
le Galois, or de Galis, was composed in octosyllable French verse by 
Chrestien de Troyes, one of the oldest and best French romancers, 
before the year 1 191 ; Fauchet, 1. ii. c. x. It consisted of above 60,000 
verses (Bibl. des Rom. t. ii. p. 250) so that it would be some trouble 
to find the fiict which is, probably, here alluded to. The romance, 
under the same title, in French prose, printed at Paris, 1530, fol., can 
be an abridgement, I suppose, of the original poem.' 

2107. worthy tinder wede, well-looking in his armour. The phrase 
is very common. Tynvhitt says it occurs repeatedly in the romance 
of Emare, and refers to folios 70, 71 b, y^ a, and 74 b of the MS. ; but 
the reader may now find the romance in print ; see Ritson's Metrical 
Romances, ii. pp. 214, 229, 235, 245. The phrase is used of ladies 
also, and must then mean of handsome appearance when well- 
dressed. See Amis and Amiloun, ed. Weber, ii. pp. 370, 375. Cf. 
1. 1979- 

2108. The stoiy is here broken off by the host's interruption. MSS. 
Pt. and HI. omit this line, and MSS. Cp. and Ln. omit 11. 2105-7 
as well. 

Li.aoi6-48.] THE TALE OF MELIBEUS. 201 

Prologue to Melibeus. 

2111. of, by. leivednesse, ignorance ; here, foolish talk. 

21 12. also, &c. ; as verily as (I hope) God will render my soul happy. 
See Kn. Ta. A. 1863, 2234. 

2113. drasty, filthy. Tynvhitt and Bell print draf/y, explained by 
full of draff or refuse. But there is no such word ; the adjective (were 
there one) would take the form draffy. See drcsiys, i.e. dregs, lees of 
wine, in the Prompt. Parv., and Way's note, which gives the spelling 
drastus (a plural form) as occurring in MS. Harl. 1002. The 'LtxX. feces 
is glossed by drasiys in Wright's Vocab., ed. Wiilcker, p. 625, 1. 16. 
And the Lat. feculentus is glossed by the A.S. drccstig in the same, 
col. 238, 1. 20. 

2123. hi gesle, in the form of a regular story of adventure of some 
well-known hero ; cf. House of Fame, 1434, 151 5. The,^^j/^J generally 
pretended to have some sort of historical foundation ; from Low Lat. 
gesta, doings. Sir Thopas was in this form, but the Host would not 
admit it, and wanted to hear about some one who was more renowned. 
'Tell us,' he says, *a tale like those in the chatisons degeste, or at least 
something in prose that is either pleasant or profitable.' 

2131. ' Although it is sometimes told in different ways by different 

2137. * And all agree in their general meaning.' sentence, sense ; see 
11. 2142, 2151. 

2148. Read it — Tenforc'e with, &c. 

The Tale of Melibeus. 

For the sources of the Tale of Melibeus, see vol. iii. p. 426. It may 
suffice to say here that Chaucer's Tale is translated from the French 
version entitled Le Livre de Mellibee et Prudence, ascribed by 
M. Paul Meyer to Jean de Meung. Of this text there are two MS. copies 
in the British IMuseum, viz. MS. Reg. 19 C. vii. and IMS. Reg. 19 C. xi, 
both of the fifteenth century; the former is said by ?^Ir. T. Wright to 
be the more correct. It is also printed, as forming part of Le Menagier 
de Paris, the author of which embodied it in his book, written about 
1393; the title of the printed book being — 'Le Menagier de Paris; 
public pour la premiere fois par la Societe des Bibliophiles Frangois ; 
a Paris M.D. CCC. XLVi ' ; (tome i. p. 186); ed. J. Pichon. In the 
following notes, this is alluded to as the French text. 

This French version was, in its turn, translated from the Liber Con- 
solationis et Consilii of Albertano of Brescia, excellently edited for the 
Chaucer Society in 1873 by Thor Sundby, with the title 'Albertani 
Brixiensis Liber Consolationis et Consilii.' This is alluded to, in the 
following notes, as the Latin text. Thor Sundby's edition is most 
helpful, as the editor has taken great pains to trace the sources of the 


very numerous quotations with which the Tale abounds; and I am thus 
enabled to give the references in most cases. I warn the reader that 
Albertano's quotations are frequently inexact. 

Besides this, the Tale of Melibeus has been admirably edited, as 
a specimen of English prose, in Matzner's Altenglische Sprachproben, 
ii. 375, with numerous notes, of which I here make considerable use. 
Owing to the great care taken by Sundby and Matzner, the task of 
explaining the difficulties in this Tale has been made easy. The more 
important notes from Matzner are marked 'Mr.' 

The first line or clause (numbered 2157) ends with the word 'Sophie,' 
as shewn by the slanting stroke. The whole Tale is thus divided into 
clauses, for the purpose of ready reference, precisely as in the Six-text 
edition ; I refer to these clauses as if they were lines. The ' paragraphs ' 
are the same as in Tyrwhitt's edition. 

2157. Melibeus. The meaning of the name is given below (note to 

I. 2600). 

Prudence. ' It is from a passage of Cassiodorus, quoted by Albertano 
in cap. vi., that he [Albertano] has taken the name of his heroine, if 
we may call her so, and the general idea of her character : — " Superauit 
cuncta infatigabilis et expedita fnidentia^'' \ Cass. Variarum lib. ii. 
epist. 15.' — Sundby. 

Sophie^ i. e. wisdom, crocpin. Neither the Latin nor the French text 
gives the daughter's name. 

2159. Inwith, within; a common form in Chaucer; see note to B. 
1794. Y-shetie, pi. oiy-shet, shut ; as in B. 560. 

2160. Tkre ; Lat. text. Ires ; Fr. text, irois. Tyrvvhitt has foure, 
as in MSS. Cp. Ln. ; yet in 1. 2562, he prints ' thin enemies ben three,' 
and in 1. 2615, he again prints * thy three enemies.' Again, in 1. 2612, 
it is explained that these three enemies signify, allegorically, the flesh, 
the world, and the devil. 

2164. As ferforih, as far; as in B. 19, 1099, &c. Matzner also 
quotes from Troilus, ii. 1 106 — ' How ferforth be ye put in loves daunce.' 

2165. Matzner would read — 'ever the lenger the more'; but see 
E. 687, F. 404. 

2166. Ovide, Ovid. The passage referred to is — 

' Quis matrem, nisi mentis inops, in funere nati 
Flere uetet ? non hoc ilia monenda loco. 
Cum dederit lacrimas, animumque expleuerit aegrum, 
lUe dolor uerbis emoderandus erit.' 

Remedia Amoris, 127-130. 

2172. Warisshe, recover ; Cp. Ln. HI. be tuarisshed, be cured. 
Chaucer uses this verb elsewhere both transitively and intransitively, 
so that either reading will serve. For the transitive use, see below, 

II. 2207, 2466, 2476, 2480; also F. 856, 1 138, 1 162; Book of Duch. 
1104. For the intransitive use, observe that, in F. 856, Cp. Pt. Ln. 
have— * then wolde myn herte Al waryssche of this bitter peynes 

LI. 2157-88.] THE TALE OF MELIBEUS. 203 

smerte'; and cf. Morte Arthure, 2186 — *I am wathely woundide, 

waresche mon I neuer ! ' — M. 

Lat. text — 'Filia tua, dante Domino, bene liberabitur.' 

2174. Senek, Seneca. ' Non affligitur sapiens liberorum amissione, 

non amicorum ; eodem animo enim fert illorum mortem quo suam 

expectat ' ; Epist. 74, § 29. 

2177. Lazarus ; see John, xi. 35. 

2178. Attempree, moderate; Lat. text, 'tcmperatus Actus.' HI. 
attemperel, which Matzner illustrates. Cf. D. 2053, where HI. has 
attemperelly; and E. 1679, where HI. has attempcrcly. Cf. 11. 2570, 
2728 below. 

Nothing defended, not at all forbidden. 

2179. See Rom. xii. 15. 

2181. 'According to the doctrine that Seneca teaches us.' Cf. ' Non 
sicci sint oculi, amisso amico, nee fluant ; lacrimandum est, non 
plorandum'; Epist. 63, § I. 

2183. This is also, practically, from Seneca : * Ouem amabis ex- 
tulisti, quaere quem amcs ; satius est amicum rcparare, quam flere'; 
Epist. 63, § 9. 

2185. lesiis Syrak, Jesus the son of Sirach. * Ecclesiasticus is the title 
given in the Latin version to the book which is called in the Septuagint 
The Wisdom of Jesus the son of Sirach '; Smith, Diet, of the Bible. 
Compare the title 'A prayer of Jesus the son of Sirach ' to Ecclus. ch. li. 
But the present quotation is really from Prov. xvii. 22. It is the ftext 
quotation, in 1. 2186, that is from Ecclus. xxx. 25 (Vulgate), i.e. xxx. 
23 in the English version. The mistake is due to misreading the 
original Lat. text, which quotes the passages in the reverse order, as 
being from ' Jesus Sirac ' and 'alibi.' 

2187. From Prov. xxv. 20 ; but the clause is omitted in the modern 
Eng. version, though Wycliffe has it. The Vulgate has : — ' Sicut tinea 
uestimento, et uermis ligno : ita tristitia uiri nocet cordi.' The words 
in the shepes flees (in the sheep's fleece) are added by Chaucer, ap- 
parently by way of explanation. But the fact is that, according to 
Matzner, the Fr. version here has 'la tigne, ou lartuison, nuit a la robe,' 
where artuison is the Mod. F. artisan, explained by Cotgrave as ' a kind 
of moth ' ; and I strongly suspect that * in the shepes flees * is due to 
this ' ou lartuison,' which Chaucer may have misread as e7i la toison. It 
looks very like it. I point other similar mistakes further on. 

Anoyeth, harms ; F. 7iuit, L. nocet. The use of /6» here is well illus- 
trated by Matzner, who compares Wycliffe's version of this very passage ; 
' As a moghe to the cloth, and a werm to the tree, so sorewe of a man 
noyeth to the herte '; whereas Purvey's later version thrice omits the to. 
In the Persones Tale, Group I. 847, anoyeth occurs both with to and 
without it. 

2188. Us oghte, it would become us ; oghte is in the subjunctive 
mood. Cf. hem oiightc, it became them, in 1. 2458 ; thee oughte, it 
became thee, in 1. 2603. — Mr. The pres. indie, form is us oiveth. 


Goodes teviporels ; F. text, blots teinporels. Chaucer uses the F. pi. 
in -es or -s for the adjective in other places, and the adj. then usually 
follows the sb. Cf. lettres capitals, capital letters, Astrolabe, i. i6. 8 ; 
weyes espirituels, spiritual ways, Pers. Tale, I. 79 ; goodes espiriiuels, 
id. 312 ; goodes tcmpoTeles^ id. 685 ; thinges espirituels, id. 784. —Mr. 

2190. See Job, i. 21. Hath wold, hath willed (it) ; see 2615. 

2193. Quotations from Solomon and from Ecclesiasticus are fre- 
quently confused, both throughout this Tale, and elsewhere. The 
reference is to Ecclus. xxxii. 24, in the Vulgate (cf. A. V. xxxii. 19) ; here 
Wycliffe has : — ' Sone, withoute counseil no-thing do thou ; and after 
thi deede thou shall not othynke' (i.e. of-tlwike, repent). 

Thou shall never 7-epente ; here HI. has — * the thar neuer rewe,' i. e. 
it needeth never for thee to rue it. 

2202. With-holde,x^\.ximftd.. Cf. A. 511; Havelok, 2362.— Mr. 

2204. Parties, &c. ; Fr. text : supporter partie. — Mr. 

2205. Hool and sound', a common phrase. Cf. Rob. of GIouc. 
pp. 163, 402, ed. Heame (11. 3417, 8301, ed. Wright) ; King Horn, 1. 1365 
(in Morris's Specimens of English) ; also 1. 2300 below. — Mr. 

2207. ' Heal, put a stop to, war by taking vengeance ; a literal and 
very happy translation from the French — atissi doit on guerir guerre 
par vefigence.' — Bell. Tyrwhitt omits the words by vengeaunce, and 
Lounsbury (Studies in Chaucer, i. 320) defends him, arguing that 'the 
physicians are represented as agreeing with the surgeons '; whereas 
Chaucer expressly says that * they seyden a fewe wordes more.' The 
words 'by vengeaunce ' are in all the seven MSS. and in the French 
original. Admittedly, they make nonsense, but the nonsense is ex- 
pressly laid bare and exposed afterwards, when it appears that the 
physicians did not really add this clause, but Melibeus dreamt that they 
did (2465-2480). The fact is, however, that the words par vengence 
were wrongly interpolated in the French text. Chaucer should have 
omitted them, but the evidence shews that he did not. I decline to 
falsify the text in order to set the author right. We should then have 
to set the French text right also ! 

2209. ' Made this matter much worse, and aggravated it.' 

2210. Outrely, utterly, entirely, i. e. without reserve ; Fr. text tout 
oultre. Not from A.S. litor, outer, utter, but from F. otiltre, outre, 
moreover; of which one sense, in Godefroy, is 'excessivement.' See 
E. 335. 639, 768, 953 ; C. 849 ; &c. 

2216. Fr. text — ' en telle maniere que tu soies bien pourveu d'espies 
et guettes.' — Mr. 

2218. To moeve ; Fr. text, de moiivoir guerre; cf. the Lat. phrase 
mouere belluvi. — Mr. 

2220. The Lat. text has here three phrases for Chaucer's * common 
proverb.' It has: *non enim subito uel celeriter est iudicandum, 
" omnia enim subita probantur incauta," et " in iudicando criminosa 
est celeritas," et "ad poenitendum properat qui cito iudicat." ' Of these, 
the first is from Cassiodorus, Variarum lib. i. c. 17 ; and the second and 

LI. 2190-243] THE TALE OF MELIBEUS. 205 

third from Publilius Syrus, Sententiae, 254 and 32 (ed. Friedrich, Bero- 
lini, 1880). For iudicando^ as in some MSS., Friedrich has the variant 
vmdicaftdo. Cf. the Proverbs of Hending, 1. 256 : ' Ofte rap reweth,' 
haste often rues. See note to 2244. 

2221. Men seyn ; this does not necessarily mean that Chaucer is 
referring to a proverb. He is merely translating. The Lat. text has ; 
' quare did co?tsueutt, Optimum iudicem existimem, qui cito intelligit 
et tarde iudicat.' It also quotes two sentences (nos. 31 1 and 128) from 
Pubhlius Syrus : ' Mora omnis odio est, sed facit sapientiam '; and — 
'Deliberare utilia mora est tutissima.' Matzner points out that there 
are two other sentences (nos. 659 and 32) in Publilius, which come very 
near the expression in the text, viz. ' Velox consilium sequitur poeni- 
tentia'; and— 'Ad poenitendum properat, qui cito iudicat.' 

2223. See John, viii. 3-8, Yoxhewroot, HI. has 'hew wrot,' which 
is obviously wrong. 

2227. Made contenaioice, made a sign, made a gesture. Among the 
senses of F. contenance, Cotgrave gives : ' gesture, posture, behaviour, 

2228. Fr. text — ' qui ne scevent que guerre se monte.' — Mr. 

2229. ' The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water ' ; 
Prov. xvii. 14. 

2231. * The chylde may rue that is vnborn '; Chevy Chase, 1. 9. 

2235. 'A tale out of season is as music in mourning'; Ecclus. xxii. 6. 

2237. Not from ' Solomon,' but from ' Jesus, son of Sirach,' as before. 
The Lat. text agrees with the Vulgate version of Ecclus. xxxii. 6 : 'ubi 
auditus non est, ne eflfundas sermonem'; the E. version (verse 4) is 
somewhat different, viz. ' Pour not out words where there is a musician, 
and shew not forth wisdom out of time.' Chaucer gives us the same 
saying again in verse] see B. 3991' 

2288. Lat. text : ' semper consilium tunc deest, quando maxime opus 
est'; from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 594. {Read cnm opus est maxime.) 

2242. Cf. F. text — ' Sire, dist elle, je vous prie que vous ne vous 
hastez, et que vous pour tous dons me donnez espace.' — Wright. 

2243. Piers Alfonce, Petrus Alfonsi. ' Peter Alfonsus, or Alfonsi, 
was a converted Spanish Jew, who flourished in the twelfth century, 
and is well known for his Disciplina Clericaiis, a collection of stories 
and moralisations in Latin prose, which was translated afterwards into 
French verse, under the title of the Chastoiemetit d' iin fere a son fils. It 
was a book much in vogue among the preachers from the thirteenth to 
the fifteenth century.' — Wright. Tyrwhitt has a long note here ; he says 
that a copy of this work is in MS. Bibl. Reg. 10 B. xii in the British 
Museum, and that there is also a copy of another work by the same 
author, entitled Dialogus conirajudaeos, in MS. Harl. 3861. He also 
remarks that the manner and style of the Disciplina Clericaiis ' show 
many marks of an Eastern original ; and one of his stories Of a trick 
put ttpon a thief is entirely taken from the Calilah a Damnah, a cele- 
brated collection of Oriental apologues.' All the best fables of Alfonsus 


were afterwards incorporated (says Tyrwhitt) into the Gcsta Roman- 
orum. He was born at Iluesca, in Arragon, in 1062, and converted to 
Christianity in 1106. 

The words here referred to are the following : ' Ne properes ulli 
reddere mutuum boni uel mali, quia diutius expectabit te amicus, et 
diutius timebit te inimicus'; Disc. Cler. xxv. 15; ed. F.W. V. Schmidt, 
Berlin, 1827, 4to., p. 71. 

2244. T/ie proverbe, &c. ; not in either the Latin or the French texts. 
Cf. the proverb of Hending — * ofte rap reweth,' often haste rues it. 
Heywood has — 'The more haste, the worse speed'; on which Ray 
notes — ' Come s'ha fretta non si fa mai niente che stia bene '; Hal. 
Qui trop se hate en cheminant, en beau chemin se fourvoye souvent ; 
Fr. Qui nimis proper^ minus prosper^ ; et nimium properans serius 

' Tarry a little, that we may make an end the sooner, was a saying of 
Sir Amias Paulet. Presto e bene non si conviene ; Jtal' See 2325 below, 
and observe that Chaucer has the same/orfn of words in Troil. i. 956. 

2247. From Ecclesiastes, vii. 28. Cf. A. 3154. 

2249. From Ecclus. xxv. 30 (Vulgate) : * Mulier, si primatum habeat, 
contraria est uiro suo.* Not in the A.V. ; cf. v. 22 of that version. 

2250. From Ecclus. xxxiii. 20-22 (Vulgate) ; 19-21 (A.V.). 

225L After noght be, ed. 1550 adds — 'if I shuld be cou«sayled by 
the '; but this is redundant. See next note. 

2252-3. These clauses are omitted in the MSS. and black-letter 
editions, but are absolutely necessary to the sense. The French text 
has — ' car il est escript : la jenglerie des femmes ne puet riens celer 
fors ce qu'elle ne scet. Apres, le philosophe dit : en mauvais conseil 
les femmes vainquent les hommes. Pour ces raisons, je ne doy point 
user de ton conseil.' It is easy to turn this into Chaucerian English, 
by referring to 11. 2274, 2280 below, where the missing passage is quoted 
with but slight alteration. 

The foniier clause is quoted from Marcus Annaeus Seneca, father of 
Seneca the philosopher, Controversiarum Lib. ii. 13. 12 : — ' Garrulitas 
mulierum id solum nouit celare, quod nescit.' Cf. P. Plowman, B. 
v. 168 ; xix. 157 ; and see the Wyf of Bathes Tale, D. 950. The second 
clause is from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 324 : — ' Malo in consilio feminae 
uincunt uiros.' 

2257. 'Non est turpe cum re mutare consilium'; Seneca, De Bene- 
ficiis, iv. 38, § I. 

Maketh no lesing, telleth no lie ; compare the use of Iyer just above. 

Turneth his corage, changes his mind. Matzner quotes a similar 
phrase from Halliwell's Diet., s. v. Tome : — 

* But thogh a man himself be good, 
And he tome so his mood 
That he haunte fooles companye, 
It shal him tome to grete folic.' 

MS. Lansdowne 793, fol. 68. 

LI. 2244-86.] THE TALE OF MELIBEUS. 207 

2258. Thar ye ftai, it needs not that ye ; i. e. you are not obliged. 
But ymv lyke, unless you please (lit. unless it please you). 

2259. Ther, where. What that him lyketh, whatever he likes. 

2260. Save your grace, with the same sense as the commoner phrase 
'save your reverence.' The Lat. text has ' salua reuerentia tua'; which 
shews the original form of the phrase. 

As seith the book. Here 'the book' probably means no more than 
the Latin text, which has 'nam qui omnes despicit, omnibus dis- 
plicet'; without any reference. 

2261. Senek. Matzner says this is not to be found in Seneca ; in fact, 
the Latin text refers us to ' Seneca, De Formula Jlonestae Vitae '; but 
Sundbyhas found it in Martinus Dumiensis, Formula Honestae Vitae, 
cap. iii. This shews that it was attributed to Seneca erroneously. 
Moreover, the original is more fully expressed, and runs thus — 
' Nullius imprudentiam despicias ; rari sermonis ipse, sed loquentium 
patiens auditor ; seuerus non saeuus, hilares neque aspernans ; 
sapientiae cupidus et docilis ; quae scieris, sine arrogantia postulanti 
imperties ; quae nescieris, sine occultatione ignorantiae tibi benigne 
postula impertiri.' Cf. Horace, Epist. vi. 67, 68. 

2265. Rather, sooner. See Mark, xvi. 9. The weakness of this 
argument for the goodness of woman appears by comparison with 
P. Plowman, C. viii. 138 : ' A synful Marje the seyh er seynt Marie 
thy moder,' i.e. Christ was seen by St. Mary the sinner earlier than by 
St. Mary His mother, after His resurrection. 

2266-9. This reappears in verse in the March. Tale, E. 2277- 

2269. Alluding to Matt. xix. 17 ; Luke xviii. 19. 

2273. Or noon, or not. So elsewhere ; see B. 2407, F. yyZ, L 962, 
963, 964. 

2276. Cf. P. Plowman, C. xx. 297, on which my note is as follows. 
' Perhaps the original form of this commonly quoted proverb 
is this : — " Tria sunt enim quae non sinunt hominem in domo 
permanere ; fumus, stillicidium, et mala uxor"; Innocens Papa, 
de Contemptu Mundi, i. 18. It is a mere compilation from 
Prov. x. 26, xix, 13, and xxvii. 15. Chaucer refers to it in his Tale 
of Melibeus, Prologue to Wife of Bathes Tale (D. 278), and Persones 
Tale (I. 631); see also Kemble's Solomon and Saturn, pp. 43, 53, 
63 ; Walter Mapes, ed. Wright, p. 83.' Cf. Wright's Bibliographia 
Britannica, Anglo-Norman Period, pp. 333, 334 ; Hazlitt's Proverbs, 
pp. 114, 339; Ida von Duringsfeld, Sprichworter, vol. i. sect. 303 ; 
Peter Cantor, ed. Migne, col. 331 ; &c. A medieval proverbial line 
expresses the same thus : — 

'Sunt tria dampna domus, imber, mala femina, fumus.' 

2277. From Prov. xxi, 9 ; cf. Prov. xxv. 24. See D. 775. 

2286. The Lat. text has : ' uulgo dici consueuit. Consilium feminile 
nimis carum aut nimis uile.' Cf. B. 4446, and the note. 


2288. The examples of Jacob, Judith, Abigail, and Esther are again 
quoted, in the same order, in the March. Tale, E. 1362-74. See Gen. 
xxvii ; Judith, xi-xiii ; i Sam. xxv. 14 ; Esther, vii. 

2293. For7ne-fader, first father. Here forme represents the A. 8. 
forma, first, cognate with Goth, fruma, Lat. primus. Cf. ' Adam ure 
forme fader'; O. E. Homilies, ed. Morris, ii. loi ; so also in Hampole, 

Pr. Cons. 483 ; Legends of the Holy Rood, ed. Morris, p. 62 ; Allit. 
Poems, A. 639. 

2294. To been a man al/ofte, for a man to be alone ; for this 
idiom, cf. L 456, 469, 666, 849, 935. — Mr. See Gen. ii. 18. 

2296. Confusioufi ; see B. 4354, and the note. 

2297. Lat. text : — ' quare per uersus dici consueuit : 

Quid melius auro ? laspis. Quid iaspide ? Sensus. 
Quid sensu? Mulier. Quid muliere? Nihil.' 

Sundby quotes from Ebrardi Bituniensis Graecismus, cum comm. 
Vincentii Metulini, fol. C. I, back — 

Quid melius auro ? laspis. Quid iaspide ? Sensus. 
Quid sensu ? Ratio. Quid ratione ? Deus. 

(A better reading is Auro qut'dmelitis.) 

In MS. Harl. 3362, fol. 67, as printed in Reliquiae Antiquae, i. 91, we 

Vento quid leuius ? fulgur. Quid fulgure ? flamma. 
Flamma quid 1 mulier. Quid muliere ? nichil. 

And these lines are immediately followed by the second quotation 
above, with the variations * Auro quid melius,' ' Sensu quid,' and ' nichil ' 
for ' Deus.' 

2303. From Prov. xvi. 24. 

2306. For the use of to with biseken, cf. 2940 below. — Mr. 

2308. From Tobit, iv. 20 (Vulgate) ; iv. 19 (A. V.). Dresse, direct; 
Lat. ' ut uias tuas dirigat.' 

2309. From James, i. 5. At this point the Fr. text is much 
shortened, pp. 20-30 of the Latin text being omitted. 

23n. Lat. text (p. 33) : — 'a te atque consiliariis tuis remoueas ilia 
tria, quae maxime sunt consilio contraria, scilicet iram, uoluptatemsiue 
cupiditatem atque festinantiam.' 

2315. Lat. text: — Mratus semper plus putat posse facere, quam 

2317. The Lat. text shews that the quotation is not from Seneca's 
De Ira, but from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 281 : — ' Iratus nil non criminis 
loquitur loco.' Cf. D. 2005, I. 537. 

2.320. From i Tim. vi. 10. See C. 334, I. 739. 

2325. Lat. 'Adpoenitendum properat, qui cito iudicat ' ; from Publil. 
Syrus, Sent. 32. {Read cito qui.) See 1. 2244 above, and the note. 

2331. From Ecclus. xix. 8, 9 (A. V.). 

2333. Lat. text (p. 40) : — ' Et alius dixit : Vix existimes ab uno posse 
celari secretum.' 

LI. 2288-367.1 THE TALE OF MELIBEUS. 209 

2334. The book. Lat. text : — ' Consilium absconditum quasi in car- 
cere tuo est retrusum, reuelatum uero te in carcere suo tenet ligatum.' 
Compare Petrus Alfonsi, Disciplina Clericalis, iv. 3. Cf. Ecclus. 
viii. 22 (Vulgate) ; viii. 19 (A. V.). 

2337. Lat. text: — 'Ait enim Seneca: Si tibi ipse non imperasti, ut 
taceres, quomodo ab alio silentium quaeris ? ' This, however, is not 
from Seneca, but from Martinus Dumiensis, De Moribus, Sent. 16. 
Sundby further quotes from Plutarch (Opera, ed. Hutten. Tubingae, 
1 814, vol. xiv. p. 395) • — ^O^rep av ariuiniiadai /3oi;Xi/, nr]8(v\ (itttjs' rj ■nun napd 
Ttvos mraiTTjafis to nicrrbv ttjs orioiTrrjs, o ^rj Trap((T\€S (reavra ; 

2338. P/ff, plight, condition. It rimes with appetyt, E. 2336, and 
•wyte^ G. 953. It occurs again in the Complaint of Anelida, 297, and 
Pari, of Foules, 294 ; and in Troilus, ii. 712, 1738, iii. 1039. The modern 
spelling is wrong, as it is quite a different word from the verb \o pligJit. 
See it discussed in my Etym. Diet., Errata and Addenda, p. 822. 

2342. Mett seyji. This does not appear to be a quotation, but a sort 
of proverb. The Lat. text merely says : — * Et haec est ratio quare 
magnates atque potentes, si per se nesciunt, consilium bonum uix aut 
nunquam capere possunt.' 

2348. From Prov. xxvii. 9. 

2349. From Ecclus. vi. 15:— 'Amico fideli non est comparatio ; et 
non est digna ponderatio auri et argenti contra bonitatem fidei illius.* 
L. 2350 is a sort of paraphrase of the latter clause. 

235L From Ecclus. vi. 14:— 'Amicus fidelis, protectio fortis ; qui 
autem inuenit ilium, inuenit thesaurum.' 'He [Socrates] was wonte 
to sale, that there is no possession or treasure more precious then 
a true and an assured good frende.' — N. Udall, tr. of Erasmus' Apoph- 
thegmes, Socrates, § 13. 

2352. Cf. Prov. xxii. 17 ; Ecclus. ix. 14. 

2354. Cf. Jobxii. 12. 

2355. From Cicero, De Senectute, vi. 17 : — ' Non uiribus aut ueloci- 
tatibus aut celeritate corporum res magnae geruntur, sed consilio, 
auctoritate, sententia ; quibus non modo non orbari, sed etiam augeri 
senectus solet.' 

2357. From Ecclus. vi. 6. 

23GL From Prov. xi. 14; cf. xv. 22. 

2363. From Ecclus. viii. 17. 

2364. Lat. text : — ' Scriptum est enim, Proprium est stultitiae aliena 
uitia cernere, suorum autem obliuisci.' From Cicero, Disput. Tusc. iii. 

30. 73- 

2366. ' Sic habendum est, nullam in amicitia pestem esse maiorem 
quam adulationem, blanditiam, assentationem '; Cicero, Laelius, xxvi. 
97 \or XXV.] 

2367. Lat. text : — ' In consiliis itaque et in aliis rebus non acerba 
uerba, sed blanda timebis.' The last six words are from Martinus 
Dumiensis, De Ouatuor Virtutibus Cardinalibus, cap. iii. Cf. Prov. 
xxviii. 23. 

* * * 

* * '^ 


2368. From Prov. xxix. 5. The words in the next clause (2369) seem 
to be merely another rendering of the same passage. 

2370. * Cauendum est, ne assentatoribus patefaciamus aures neue 
adulari nos sinamus '; Cicero, De Ofificiis, i. 26. 

2371. From Dionysius Cato, Distich, iii. 6: — ' Sermones blandos 
blacsosque cauere memento.' 

2373. ' Cum inimico nemo in gratiam tuto [a/, tute] redit '; Publilius 
Syrus, Sent. 91. 
2874. Lat. text :— * Ouare Ysopus dixit : 

Ne confidatis secreta nee his detegatis. 
Cum quibus egistis pugnae discrimina tristis.' 

2375. Not from Seneca, but from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 389 : — 
* Nunquam ubi diu fuit ignis deficit uapor'; but the I\ISS. differ 
in their readings. ' There is no fire without some smoke ' ; Heywood's 

2376. From Ecclus. xii. 10. 

2379. The passage alluded to is the following : — * Ne te associaueris 
cum inimicis tuis, cum alios possis repperire socios ; quae enim mala 
egeris notabunt, quae uero bona fuerint deuitabunt [Lat. text, deuia- 
bunt]'; cf. Petrus Alfonsi, Disciplina Clericalis, iv. 4. The words 
' they wol perv^erten it ' seem to be due to the reading dcjiiabiint^ 
taken to mean ' they will turn aside,' in a transitive sense. 

238L Lat. text (pp. 50, 51) ; *ut quidam philosophus dixit, Nemo ei 
satis fidus est, quem metuit.' 

2382. Inexactly quoted from the Latin text, taken from Cicero, De 
Officiis, ii. 7 : — ' Malus custos diuturnitatis est metus, contraque beniuo- 
lentia fidelis uel ad perpetuitatem . . . Nulla uis imperii tanta est, quae 
premente metu possit esse diuturna.' 

2384. From Prov. xxxi. 4, where the Vulgate has : ' Noli regibus, o 
Lamuel, noli regibus dare uinum ; quia nullum secretum est ubi regnat 
ebrietas.' Cf. C. 561 (and note), 585, 587. 

2386. Cassidoric^ Cassiodorus, who wrote in the time of Theoderic 
the Great, king of the Ostrogoths (a. d. 475-526). The quotation is 
from his Variarum lib. x. epist. 18 : — ' quia laesionis instar est occulte 
consulere, et aliud uelle monstrare.' In the Latin text, cap. xxiii, the 
heading of the chapter is : — ' De Vitando consilium illorum, qui secreto 
aliud consulunt, et palam aliud se uelle ostendunt.' Chaucer's rendering 
is far from being a happy one. 

2387. Cf. Prov. xii. 5 ; but note that the Lat. text has:— 'Malus 
homo a se nunquam bonum consilium refert'; which resembles 
Publilius Syrus, Sent. 354 : — * Malus bonum ad se nunquam consilium 

2388. From Ps. i. i. 

2391. Ttdlh(s. The reference is to Cicero's De Officiis, ii. 5, as 
quoted in the * Latin text': — 'quid in unaquaque re uerum sincerumque 
sit, quid consentaneum cuique rei sit, quid consequens, ex quibus 

LI. 2368-439-] THE TALE OF MELIBEUS. 211 

quaeque gignantur, quae cuiusque rei caussa sit.' This is expanded in 
the English, down to 1. 2400. 

2405. For dtstreyneih, MS. HI. has the corrupt reading destroy eih. 
The reading is settled by the lines in Chaucer's Proverbs (see the 
Minor Poems, vol. i. p. 407) : — 

'Who-so mochel wol embrace 
Lite] therof he shal distreyne.^ 

The Lat. text has : * Qui nimis capit parum stringit '; the Fr. text has : 
* Qui trop embrasse, pou estraint.' 

2406. Catouft, Dionysius Cato ; Distich, iii. 15 : — 

* Quod potes, id tentato ; operis ne ponderc pressus 
Succumbat labor, et frustra tentata relinquas.' 

2408. The Lat. text has :— ' Ait enim Petrus Alfunsus, Si dicere 
metuas unde poeniteas, semper est melius noti quam j/V,' From his 
Disciplina Clericalis, vi. 12. 

24n. Defenden, forbid, i. e. advise one not to do. This passage is 
really a quotation from Cicero, De Officiis, i. 9 :— ' Bene praecipiunt 
qui uetant quidquid agere, quod dubites aequum sit an iniquum.' 

2413. The Lat. text has : — ' Nunc superest uidere, quando consilium 
uel promissum mutari possit uel debeat.* This shews that the reading 
cou7iseiI, as in HI., is correct. 

2415. Lat. text : — * Quae de nouo emergunt, nouo indigent consilio, 
ut leges dicunt.' 

2416. Lat. text : — ' Inde et Seneca dixit. Consilium tuum si audierit 
hostis, consilii dispositionem permutes.' But no such sentence has 
been discovered in Seneca. 

2419. Lat. text : — ' Generaliter enim nouimus, Turpes stipulationes 
nullius esse momcnti, ut leges dicunt,' for which Sundby refers us to 
the Digesta, xlv. i. 26. 

2421. ' Malum est consilium, quod mutari non potest ': Publilius 
Syrus, Sent. 362. 

2431. First and forward; so in 1. 2684. We now say 'first and 

2436. See above, 11. 231 1-2325 ; vol. iv. p. 208. 

2438. Anientissed, annulled, annihilated, done away with. In Rom. 
iv. 14, where Wyclifife's earlier text has anentyschid, the later text has 
distried- The Prompt. Parv. has : ' Anyyntyschyn, or enyntyschyn, 
Exinanto.' From O. F. anieniiss-, pres. pt. stem of anientir, to bring 
to nothing, variant of anienter, a verb formed from prep, a, to, and 
O. F. 7iient (Ital. iiicnte, mod. F. neant), nothing. The form 7tient 
answers to Lat. *iic-ente)n or *?iec-entem, from ne, nee, not, and etite?fi, 
ace. of ens, being. See the New E. Diet. Cf. anyente in P. Plowman, 
C. XX. 267, xxi. 389. As yaw oghte, as it behoved you ; HI. aj ye ought e. 
Both phrases occur. 

2439. Talent ; Fr. text, * ta voulonte ' ; i. e. your desire, wish. ' Talent, 

P 2 


. . . will, desire, lust, appetite, an earnest humour unto ' ; Cotgrave. 
Cf. C. 540, and I. 2441 below. 

2444, This paragraph is omitted in MS. HI. 

1^\1. Hochepot \ HI. Jiochi'poche, whcnct Y.. /lodgepodge. From F. 
hochcpot, 'a hotch-pot, or gallimaufrey, a confused mingle-mangle of 
divers things jumbled or put together'; Cotgrave. This again is from 
the M. Du. /lu/spof, with the same sense ; from /neisen, to shake, and 
pot. See Hotchpot in my Etym. Diet. Ther been ye condescended^ and 
to that opinion ye have submitted. 

2449. Reward, regard ; for re^vard is merely an older spelling of 
' regard.' So in Pari, of Foules, 426 ; Leg. of Good Women, 375, 
399. 1622. 

2454. Lat. text : — * Humanum enim est peccare, diabolicum uero 
perscuerare.' Sundby refers us to St. Chrysostom, Adhortatio ad 
Theodorum lapsum, L 14 (Opera, Paris, 1718, fol. ; i. 26) ; where we 
find (in the Lat. version) :— 'Nam peccare quidem, humanum est ; at 
in peccatis perseuerare, id non humanum est, sed omnino satanicum.' 
It is also quoted by Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum Historiale, lib. 
xvii. c. 45. 

24-59. Lat. text : — ' ad illorum officium spectat omnibus prodesse et 
nulli nocere.' This (says Sundby) is quoted from the Decretals of 
Gregory IX., lib. i. tit. 37. cap. 3. 

2467. Cf. Lat. text : — 'scilicet, Contraria contrariis curantur.' 

2473. Fr. text : — ' Or veez, dist Prudence, comment un chascun 
croist legierement ce qu'il veut et desire ! ' — Mr. 

2479. For good, Sec, ' namely, in the sense that good,' &c. 

2482. See Rom. xii. 17; cf i Thess. v. 15 ; i Cor. iv. 12. The Lat. 
text quotes part of verses 17-21 of Rom. xii. But it is clear that 
Chaucer has altered the wording, and was thinking of i Pet. iii. 9. 

2485. Aiitt wyse folk, Cp. inserts 'and olde folk,' and Ln. 'and the 
olde folke.' The Fr. text has : 'les advocas, les sages, et les anciens.' 
Ed. 1532 also inserts 'and olde folke'; and perhaps it should be 

2487. Warnestore, to supply with defensive materials, to garrison, 
protect ; see 2521, 2523, 2525 below. 'And wel thei were warnestured 
of vitailes inow'; Will, of Palerne, 1 121. We also find a sb. of the 
same form. ' In eche stude hii sette ther strong ivarnesture and god '; 
Rob. of Glouc. 2075 (ed. Hearne, p. 94). 'The Sarazins kept it 
[a castle] that tym for ther chefe ivarnistonr'; Rob. of Brunne, tr. 
of Langtoft, ed. Hearne, p. 180. 'I will remayn quhill this waj-nstor be 
gane '; Wallace, bk. ix. \. 1200, where ed. 1648 has ' till all the stufife 
be gone.' Correctly warnisture ; a derivative of O. F. warnir, garnir, 
to supply (E. garnish), Godefroy gives O. F. 'garnesttire, garm'sttire, 
garniture', ivarnesture, s. f. provisions, ressource ; authentication ; 
garnison, forteresse '; with eight examples. Cf. E. garrisoft (M.E. 
garnison), garment (M. E. garneinent), and garniture. The last of 
these is, in fact, nothing but the O. F. warnisture in a more modern 

LI. 2444-510.] THE TALE OF MELIBEUS. 213 

form. Hence we obtain the sense by consulting Cotgrave, who gives : 
* Ganiiture, garniture, garnishment, furniture ; provision, munition, 
store, necessary implements.' It also appears that the word is properly 
a substantive, with the spelling wamistitre \ it became ivarnistore or 
warnestore by confusion with O. F. estor^ a store ; and, as the word 
store was easily made into a verb, it was easy to treat luar nest ore in 
the same way. It is a sb. in Rob. of Gloucester, as shewn above, but 
appears as a verb in Will, of Palerne. MS. HI. has warmstore (with 
VI for ni) ; and the same error is in the editions of Wright, Bell, and 
Morris. Ed. 1532 has ivarnstorc. 

2494. From Ps. cxxvii. 1 (cxxvi. i, V'ulgate). 

2496. From Dionysius Cato, lib. iv. dist. 14: — 'Auxilium a nobis 
petito, si forte laboras ; Nee quisquam melior medicus quam fidus 

2499. Piers Alf once, Petrus Alfonsi, in his Disciplina Clericalis, xviii. 
10 : — * Ne aggrediaris uiam cum aliquo nisi prius eum cognoueris ; si 
quisquam ignotus tibi in uia associauerit, iterque tuum inuestigauerit, 
die te uelle longius ire quam disposueris ; et si detulerit lanceam, uade 
ad dextram ; si ensem, ad sinistram.' 

2505. The repetition of that before ye, following the former that 
heiore/or, is due to a striving after greater clearness. It is not at all 
uncommon, especially in cases where the two t/iats are farther apart. 
Cf. the use of /le and Aim in 1. 2508. 

Lete the kcping, neglect the protection ; A. S. latan. 

2507. 'Beatus homo qui semper est pauidus ; qui uero mentis est 
durae, corruet in malum'; Prov. xxviii. 14. Hence the quotation- 
mark follows bityde, 

2509. Counterivayte evibusshements, 'be on the watch against lyings 
in ambush.' ' Cotttregaitier, v. act. dpier, guetter de son cote ; refl. se 
garder, se mettre en garde '; Godefroy. Three examples are given of 
the active use, and four of the reflexive use. Espiaille, companies of 
spies; it occurs again in the sense of 'a set of spies ' in D. 1323. 
Matzner well remarks that espiaille does not mean 'spying' or 
'watching,' as usually explained, but is a collective sb., like O. F. 
rascaille, poraille, fcdaille. Godefroy, in his O. F. Diet., makes the 
same mistake, though his own example is against him. He has : 
'Espiaille, s. f. action d'epier : Nous avons ja noveles par nos 
espiailles'; i.e. by means of our spies (not of our spyings). This 
quotation is from an A. F. proclamation made in London, July 26, 1347. 

2510. Senek, Seneca ; but, as before, the reference is really to the 
Sentences of Publilius Syrus. Of these the Lat. text quotes no less 
than four, viz. Nos. 542, 607, 380, and 116 (ed. Dietrich) ; as follows : — 

'Qui omnes insidias timet, in nullas incidet.' 

' Semper metuendo sapiens euitat malum.' 

' Non cito perit ruina, qui ruinam timet.' 

' Caret periculo, qui etiam [cum est] tutus cauet.' 


2514. Senek; this again is from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 255: — 
' Inimicum, quamuis humilem, docti est metuerc.' 

2515. The Lat. and Fr. texts both give the reference, correctly, to 
Ovid's Remedia Amoris ; see 1. 421 : — 

' Parva necat morsu spatiosum uipera taurum ; 
A cane non magno saepe tenetur aper.' 

Chaucer has here interpolated the reference to ' the thorn pricking 
the king' between his translations of these two lines. The interpola- 
tion occurs neither in the French nor in the Latin text. 

IVese/e, weasel. The origin of this queer mistake is easily perceived. 
The Fr. text has : ' La petite vivre occist le grant torel.' Here vivre 
represents Lat. uipera, a viper (cf. E. 7i;iver?i) ; but Ch. has construed 
it as if it represented Lat. uiuerra, a ferret. 

2518. The book. The quotation is from Seneca, Epist. ill. § 3 : — 
' Quidam fallere docuerunt, dum falli timent.' {For Quidam read 
Nam multi). Tyrwhitt's text is here imperfect, and he says he has 
patched it up as he best could; but the MSS. (except Cp. and Ln.) 
give a correct text. 

2520. Lat. text : — * Cum irrisore consortium non habeas ; loquelae 
cius assiduitatem quasi toxica fugias.' From Albertano of Brescia, 
who here quotes from his own work, Dc Arte Eloquendi, p. cviii. ; 
according to Sundby. 

2521. Warnestore, protect ; see note to 2487 above, and see 2523. 
252.3. Swiche as han, ' such as castles and other kinds of edifices have.' 
Artelleries, missile weapons; cf. i Sam xx. 40, i Mace. vi. 51 (A.V.). 

* Artillarie now a dayes is taken for ii. thinges : Gunnes and Bowes'; 
Ascham, Toxophilus, ed. Arber, p. 65. In Chaucer's time it referred 
to bows, crossbows, and engines for casting stones. Cotgrave explains 
F. artillier as ' one that maketh both bowes and arrowes.' 

2525-6. Owing to the repetition of the words grete edifices, one of 
the early scribes (whom others followed) passed from one to the other, 
thus omitting the words ' apperteneth som tyme to pryde and eek men 
make heighe toures and grete edifices.' But MSS. Cp. and Ln. supply 
all but the last three words ' and grete edifices,' and as we know that 
' grete edifices ' must recur, they really supply all but the sole word 
' and,' which the sense absolutely requires. Curiously enough, these 
very MSS. omit the rest of clause 2525, so that none of the MSS. are 
perfect, but the text is easily pieced together. It is further verified by 
the Lat. text, which has :— ' Munitio turrium et aliorum altorum aedifi- 
ciorum ad superbiam plerumque pertinet .... praeterea turres cum 
magno labore et infinitis expensis fiunt ; et etiam cum factae fuerint, 
nihil ualent, nisi cum auxilio prudentium et fidelium amicorum et cum 
magnis expensis defendantur.' The F. text supplies the gap with — 
'appartiennent aucune fois a orgueil : apres on fait les tours et les 
grans edifices.' — MS. Reg. 19 C. vii. leaf 133, back. Hence there is no 
doubt as to the reading. 

LI. 3514-82.] THE TALE OF MELIBEUS. 215 

All former editions are here defective, and supply the gap with the 
single word is, which is found in ed. 1532. 

2526. lVi//i giet costages, at great expense : Fr. text, ' a grans 

Stree, straw; MS. HI. has the spelling straw. We find the phrase 
again in the Book of the Duch. 671 ; also * ne roghte of hem a street 
id. 887; ' acounted 7tat a street id. 1 237; ' ne counted nat three 
strees^ id. 718. 

2530. Lat. text : — ' unum est inexpugnabile munimentum, amor 
ciuium.' Not from Cicero ; but from Seneca, Ue dementia, i. 19. 5. 

2534. ' In omnibus autem negotiis, prius quam aggrediare, adhibenda 
est praeparatio diligens '; Cicero, De Officiis, i. 21. 

2537. Lat. text : — ' Longa praeparatio belli celerem uictoriam facit.' 
But the source is unknown ; it does not seem to be in Cicero. 
Matzner quotes a similar saying from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 125 : — 
* Diu apparandum est bellum, ut uincas celerius.' 

2538. ' Munitio quippe tunc efficitur praeualida, si diuturna fuerit 
excogitatione roborata'; Cassiodorus, Variarum lib. i. epist. 17. 

2545. Tullius. This refers to what has already preceded in 2391-2400, 
the passage referred to being one from Cicero's De Officiis, ii. 5, where 
we are bidden to consider several points, viz. (i) 'quid in quaque re 
uerum sinccrumque sit ; (2) quid consentaneum cuique rei sit ; {3) quid 
consequens ; (4) ex quo quidque gignatur ; (5) quae cuiusque rei 
caussa sit.' All these five points are taken below in due order ; viz. 
(i) in 2546 ; (2) in 2550 ; (3) in 2577 ; (4) in 2580 ; and (5) in 2583. 

2546. Trouthe ; referring to tieruni in clause (l) in the last note. 
2550. Consentinge\ \.^. consentaneum \Xic\^^x%& {p.) vn. note to 2545. 

Cf. 2571. MS. HI. has here the false reading ^^/^^/j'/if, but in 1. 2571 
it has consentynge. 

255L Lat. text : — 'qui et quot et quales.' Thus whiche means 'of 
what sort.' The words and luhicJic been they, omitted in MS. E. only, 
are thus seen to be necessary ; cf. 1. 2552, where the phrase is repeated. 

2558. Cosins germayns ; Lat. ' consanguineos germanos.' Neigh 
kinrede, relations near of kin ; cf. ' nis but a fer kinrede ' in 2565. 

256L Reward, regard, care ; as above, in 2449 ; (see the note). 

2565. Litel sib, slightly related ; fty sib, closely related. Cf. ' ne on 
his manges lafe ])e swa neah sib wtere,' nor with the relict of his 
kinsman who was so near of kin ; Laws of King Cnut, § vii ; in 
Thorpe's Ancient Laws, i. 364. 

2570. As the lawe ; Sundby refers to Justinian's Codex, VHL iv. i. 

2573. That fiay ; Fr. text — ' que non.' 

2577. Consequent ; i. e. ' consequens ' in clause (3), note to 2545. 

2580. Engendringe ; i. e. ' ex quo quidque gignatur ' in clause (4), 
note to 2545. 

2582. Matzner says this is corrupt; but it is quite right, though 
obscure. The sense is—' and, out of the taking of vengeance in return 
for that, would arise another vengeance ' ; &g. Engendre is here taken 


in the sense of 'be engendred' or 'breed'; see the New E. Diet. 
The Fr. text is clearer : ' de la vengence se etigendrera autre 

2583. Causes ; i. e. 'caussa' in clause (5), note to 2545. 

2585. The Lat. text omits O^iens, which seems to be here used as 
synonymous with longinqua. ' Caussa igitur iniuriae tibi illatae duplex 
fuit efficiois, scilicet rcinotissivia &i proxhna.' 

2588. ' Occasio uero illius caussae, quae dicitur caussa acddetifalis, 
fuit odium,' &c. So below, the Lat. text has caussa iiiaterialis, caussa 
/or»ia/iSy and caussa Jiftalis. 

259L // letted Jiat, it tarried not ; Lat. text, 'nee per eos remansit.' 
This intransitive use oi letten is awkward and rare. It occurs again 
in P. Plowman, C. ii. 204, xx. 76, 331. 

2594. Book of Decrees ; Sundby refers us to the Decretum Gratiani ; 
P. ii, Caussa i, Ou. i.e. 25 : — ' uix bono peraguntur exitu, quae malo 
sunt inchoata principio.' 

2596. T/taJ>ostle, the apostle Paul. The Lat. text refers expressly to 
the First Epistle to the Corinthians, meaning i Cor. iv. 5 ; but Chaucer 
has accommodated it to Rom. xi. 33. 

2600. The Lat. text informs us that Melibeus signifies viel bibens. 
For similar curiosities of derivation, see note to G. 87. There was 
a town called Meliboea (MtXt'/Soia) on the E. coast of Thessaly. 

2605. From Ovid, Amor. i. 8. 104 : — ' Impia sub dulci melle uenena 

2606. From Prov. xxv. 16. 

26n. The three enemys, i. e. the flesh, the devil and the world. The 
entrance of these into man through the five senses is the theme of 
numerous homilies. See especially Sawles Warde, in O. Eng. 
Homilies, ed. Morris, First Series, p. 245 ; and the Ayenbite of Inwyt, 
ed. Morris, p. 263. 

2614. Deedly simtes, the Seven Deadly Sins ; see the Persones Tale. 
Fyve tvi'ttes, five senses ; cf. P. Plowman, C. ii. 15, xvi. 257. 

2615. Wo/d, willed; pp, of wt7/en. F. text — 'a voulu.' See 2190 
above; Leg. of Good Women, 1209; Compl. of Venus, 11 ; P. Plow- 
man, B. XV. 258 ; Malor}''s Morte Arthure, bk. xviii. c. 15 — ' [he] myghte 
haue slayne vs and he had -wo/d'; and again, in c. 19 — ' I myght haue 
ben maryed and I had welded Gower has — 'if that he had wold'', 
Conf. Amantis, ii. 9. 

2618. Falle, befall, come to pass ; F. text — ' advenir.' 
2620. Were, would be ; F. text — 'ce seroit moult grant dommage.' 
2623-4. The missing portion is easily supplied. The French text 
(MS. Reg. 19 C. vii, leaf 136) has : — ' Et a ce respont Dame Prudence, 
Certes, dist elle, le t'octroye que de vengence vient molt de maulx et 
de biens ; mais vengence n'appartient pas a vn chascun, fors seule- 
ment aux iuges et a ceulx qui ont la iuridicion sur les malfaitteurs.* 
Here 'mais vengence' should rather be 'mais faire vengence,' as 
in MS. Reg. 19 C. xi. leaf 59, back, and in the printed edition. It is 

LI. 2583-656.] THE TALE OF MELIBEUS. 217 

clear that the omission of this passage is due to the repetition of 
trespassours at the end of 2622 and 2624. 

2627. Lat. text — ' nam, ut ait Seneca, Bonis nocet, qui mahs parcit.' 
This corresponds to — ' Bonis necesse est noceat, qui parcit malis ' ; 
Pseudo-Seneca, De Moribus, Sent. 114; see Publilius Syrus, ed. 
Dietrich, p. 90. The Fr. text has : — ' Cellui nuit \aL nuist] aux bons, 
qui espargne les mauvais.' Chaucer's translation is so entirely at 
fault, that I think his MS. must have been corrupt ; he has taken 
nuist aux as maisire, and then could make but little of espargne, 
which he makes to mean 'proveth,' i.e. tests, tries the quality of; 
perhaps his IMS. had turned espargne (or esparne) into esprouve. 
MSS. Cp. Pt. Ln. turn it into reproveth ; this makes better sense, but 
contradicts the original still more. 

2628. ' Ouoniam excessus tunc sunt in formidine, cum creduntur 
iudicibus displicere'; Cassiodorus, Variarum lib. i. epist. 4. 

2629. Lat. text : — ' Et alibi dixit, ludex, qui dubitat ulcisci, multos 
improbos facit'; slightly altered from Publ. Syrus, Sent. 526:— 'Qui 
ulcisci dubitat, inprobos plures facit.' 

2630. From Rom. xiii. 4. For spcre, as in all the copies, 
Chaucer should ha\e written swerd. The Fr. text has glaive ; Lat. 

2632. Ye shul rctourne or have your rccours to the luge ; explana- 
tory of the F. text — ' tu recourras au iuge.' 

2633. As the lawe axeth and requy7-eth ; explanatory of the Fr. 
text — ' selon droit.' For this use oi axeth (= requires), cf. P. Plowman, 
C. i. 21, ii. 34. 

2635. Many a strong pas ; Fr. text — ' moult de fors pas.' MS. HL 
has : — ' many a strayt passage.' 

2638. Not from Seneca, but (as in other places where Seneca is 
mentioned) from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 320 (ed. Dietrich) : — ' Male 
geritur, quicquid geritur fortunae fide.' 

2640. Again from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 189 (ed. Dietrich) : — 
'Fortuna uitrea est ; tum quum splendet frangitur.' 

2642. Setir (E. sure^ and sikcr are mere variants of the same word ; 
the former is O. F. seur, from Lat. ace. securuin ; the latter is from 
Lat. s^cicrus, wuth a different accentuation and a shortening of the 
second vowel. We also have a third form, viz. secure. 

2645. Again from Publ. Syrus, Sent. 173 : — ' Fortuna nimium quem 
fouet, stultum facit.' 

2650. From Rom. xii. 19 ; cf. Deut. xxxii. 35, Ps. xciv. i. 

2653. From Publ. Syrus, Sent. 645: — ' Veterem ferendo iniuriam 
inuites nouam.' 

2655. Holden over lotue, esteemed too low, too lightly. 

2656. From Publ. Syrus, Sent. 487 : — * Patiendo multa {al, inulta] 
eueniunt {al. ueniunt] quae nequeas pati.' Mowe suffre, be able to 
endure. For mowe, Wright wrongly prints nowe ; MS. HI. has inowe, 


2663. From Caecilii Balbi Sentcntiac, ed. Friedrich, 1870, no. 162 : — 

* Qui non corripit peccantem gnatum, peccare imperat.' 

2664. 'And the judges and sovereign lords might, each in his own 
land, so largely tolerate wicked men and evil-doers,' &c. Lat. text : — 
*si multa maleficia patiuntur fieri.' 

2667. Let us now puite, let us suppose ; Fr. text— * posons.' A more 
usual phrase is ' putte cas,' put the case ; cf. note to 2681. 

2668. As now, at present ; see 2670. 

2671. From Seneca, De Ira, ii. 34, § i : — 'Cum pare contendere, 
anceps est ; cum superiore, furiosum ; cum inferiore, sordidum.' 
2675. From Prov. xx. 3. 

2678. From Publilius Syrus, Sent. 483 : — * Potenti irasci sibi peri- 
clum est quaerere.' 

2679. From Dion. Cato, Dist. iv. 39: — 

' Cede locum laesus Fortunae, cede potenti ; 
Laedere qui potuit, aliquando prodesse ualebit.' 

2681. Yet sette I caas, but I will suppose ; Fr. text — 'posons,* as in 
2667 above. 

2%S^. First and foreward; Fr. text — ' premierement.' See note to 
2431 above. 

2685. Tliepoete\ Fr. text, ' le poete.' Not in the Latin text, and the 
source of the quotation is unknown. Cf. Luke, xxiii. 41. 

2687. Seint Gregorie. Not in the Lat. text ; source unknown. 

2692. From i Pet. ii. 21. 

2700. Referring to 2 Cor. iv. 17. 

2702. From Prov. xix. ii, where the Vulgate has: — 'Doctrina uiri 
per patientiam noscitur.' 

2703. From Prov. xiv. 29, where the Vulgate has : — ' Qui patiens est 
multa gubernatur prudentia.' 

2704. From Prov. xv. 18. 

2705. From Prov. xvi. 32. 

2707. From James, i. 4 : — * Patientia autem opus perfectum habet.' 

2713. Corage, desire, inclination ; cf. E. 1254. 

2715. The Fr. text is fuller : ' et si ie fais un grant exces, car on dit 
que exces n'est corrige que par exces, c'est a dire que oultrage ne se 
corrige fors que par oultrage.' — Mr. Perhaps part of the clause has 
been accidentally omitted, owing to repetition of ' exces.' 

2718. 'Quid enim discrepat a peccante, qui se per excessum nititur 
uindicare ? ' — Cassiodorus, Variarum lib. i. epist. 30. 

2721. Lat. text : — *ait enim Seneca, Nunquam scelus scelere uindi- 
candum.' Not from Seneca ; Sundby refers us to Martinus Dumiensis, 
De Moribus, S. 139. 

2723. Withouten intetvalle . . . de/ay ; the Fr. text merely has 

* sans intervalle.' Chaucer explains the word intervalle. 

2729. ' Qui impatiens est sustinebit damnum '; Prov. xix. 19. 

2730. (9///^(?/ ///£!:/, in a matter that. 

LI. 2663 758.] THE TALE OF MELIBEUS. 219 

2731. Lat. text (p. 95) :— ' Culpa est immiscere se lei ad se non 
pertinenti.' Sundby refers us to the Digesta, 1. xvii. 36. 

2732. From Prov. xxvi. 17. 

2733. Outherwhyle, sometimes, occasionally ; cf. 2857. So in Ch. 
tr. of Boethius, bk. iii. pr. 12. 119 (vol. ii. p. 89) ; P. Plowman, C. vi. 50, 
vii. 160, xxii. 103, &c. 

2740. From Ecclesiastes, x. 19 : — 'pecuniae oboediunt omnia.' 

2741. All the copies have power; but, as Matzner remarks, we 
should rt2id poverte ; the Fr. text \idiS povrete. 

2743. Kichesses ben ^(^oode ; the Lat. text here quotes i Tim. iv. 4. 

2744. 'Homo sine pccunia est quasi corpus sine anima' is written 
on a fly-leaf of a MS. ; see my Pref. to P. Plowman, C-text, p. xx. 

2746. All the MSS. have Pamphilles instead of PampJiilus. The 
allusion is to Pamphilus Maurilianus, who wrote a poem, well-known 
in the fourteenth centur}', entitled Liber de Amore, which is extant in 
MSS. (e.g. in MS, Bodley 3703) and has been frequently printed. 
Tyrwhitt cites the lines here alluded to from the Bodley MS. 

'Dummodo sit diues cuiusdam nata bubulci, 
Eligit e mille, quem libet, ilia uirum.' 

Sundby quotes the same (with ipsa for ilia) from the Paris edition 
of 1 5 10, fol. a iiii, recto. Chaucer again refers to Pamphilus in 
F. 1 110, on which see the note. 

2748. This quotation is not in the Latin text, and is certainly not 
from Pamphilus ; but closely follows Ovid's lines in his Tristia, i. 9. 5 : — 

' Donee eris felix, multos numerabis amicos ; 
Tempora si fuerint nubila, solus eris.' 

See notes to B. 120 and B. 3436. 

2751. Neither is this from Pamphilus, but from some author quoted 
by Petrus Alfonsi, Discip. Cler. vi. 4, who says: — 'ait quidam 
uersificator, Clarificant [al. Glorificant] gazae priuatos nobilitate.' 

2752. We know, from the Lat. text, that there is here an allusion to 
Horace, Epist. i. 6. 27 '• — 

'Et genus ct formam regina pecunia donat.' 

2754. The Lat. text has viater criminum, and the Fr. text, mere des 
crimes. It is clear that Chaucer has misread mines for critnes, or his 
MS. was corrupt ; and he has attempted an explanation by subjoining 
a gloss of his own — ' that is to seyn . . . overthrowinge or fallinge doun.' 
The reference is to Cassiodorus, Variarum lib. ix. epist. 13: — 'Ut dam 
mater criminuiii necessitas tollitur, peccandi ambitus auferatur.' 

2756. ' Est una de aduersitatibus huius saeculi grauioribus libero 
homini, quod necessitate cogitur, ut sibi subueniat, requirere inimicum'; 
Petrus Alfonsi, Disciplina Clericalis, iv. 4. 

2758. Lat. text : — ' O miserabilis mendicantis conditio ! Nam, si 
petit, pudore confunditur ; et si non petit, egestate consumitur ; sed ut 


mcndicet necessitate compellitur '; Innocentius III (Papa), De Con- 
temptu Mundi, lib. i. c. i6. See note to B. 99, at p. 142. 

2761. ' iNIelius est enimmori quam indigere'; Ecclus.xl. 29; cf. A.V., 
Ecclus. xl. 28. See note to B. 114, at p. 142. 

2762. * Melior est mors quam uita amara '; Ecclus. xxx. 17. The Fr. 
text has : — 'INIieulx vault la mort amere que telle vie'; where, as in 
Chaucer, the adjective is shifted. 

2765. How ye shul have yow, how you ought to behave yourself. In 
fact, behave is merely a compound of be- and have. 

2766. Sokingly, gradually. In the Prompt. Parv. we find 'Esyly, or 
sokyfigly, Sensim, paulatim.' And compare the following :— ' Domitius 
Corbulo vsed muche to saie, that a mannes enemies in battaill are to be 
ouercomed (sic) with a carpenters squaring-axe, that is to saie, sokingly, 
one pece after another. A common axe cutteth through at the first 
choppe ; a squaring-axe, by a little and a little, werketh the same 
effecte.' — Udall, tr. of Erasmus' Apophthegmes, Julius Caesar, § 33. 

2768. From Prov. xxviii. 20. 

2769. From Prov. xiii. 1 1. 
2773. Not in the Latin text. 

2775. * Detrahere igitur alteri aliquid, et hominem hominis incom- 
modo suum augere commodum, magis est contra naturam, quam mors, 
quam paupertas, quam dolor, quam cetera, quae possunt aut corpori 
accidere aut rebus extemis'; Cicero, De Officiis, iii. 5. 

2779. ' For idleness teacheth much evil '; Ecclus. xxxiii. 27. 

2780. From Prov. xxviii. 19 ; cf. xii. 11. 

2783. Cf. Prov. xx. 4. 

2784. From Dionysius Cato, Distich, i. 2 :— 

* Plus uigila semper, nee somno deditus esto ; 
Nam diutuma quies uitiis alimenta ministrat.' 

2785. Quoted again in G. 6, 7 ; see note to G. 7. 

2789. Fool-large, foolishly liberal ; Fr. text, 'fol larges.' Cf. 2810. 

2790. Chincherye, miserliness, parsimony ; from the adj. chinche, 
which occurs in 2793. Chinchc, parsimonious, miserly, is the nasalised 
form oi chiche ', see Havelok, 1763,2941 ; and see Chinch in the New 
E. Dictionary. To the examples there given add: — * A Chinche, tenax: 
Chincher)', ienacitas^', Catholicon Anglicum. 

' But such an other chinche as he 
Men wisten nought in all the londe.' 

Gower, Conf. Amant. ii. 2SS. 

2792. From Dionysius Cato, Distich, iv. 16: — 

' Utere quaesitis opibus ; fuge nomen auari ; 
Quo tibi diuitias, si semper pauper abundas?^ 
2795. From Dionysius Cato, Distich, iii. 22 : — 

* Utere quaesitis, sed ne uidearis abuti ; 
Qui sua consumunt, quum deest, aliena sequuntur.' 

LI. 2761-858.] THE TALE OF MELIBEUS. 221 

2796. Folily, foolishly. We find M. E. folliche, both adj. and adv., 
2ccvdi follichely , folily as adv. It is spelt/<?///j' in Wyclifte, Num. xii. il, 
and in the Troy-book, 573 ; s\so/oli/t, Will, of Palerne, 4596 ; folyly, 
Rom. of the Rose, 5942 fsee the footnote). 

2800. Weeldinge (so in E., other MSS. weldtnge), wielding, i.e. 

2802. Not in the Latin text. 

2807. Compare Prov. xxvii. 20. 

28n. 'Quamobrem nee ita claudenda est res familiaris, ut earn 
benignitas aperire non possit ; nee ita reseranda, ut pateat omnibus'; 
Cicero, De Officiis, ii. 15. 

2818. See Prov. xv. 16 ; xvi. 8. 

2820. The prophete, i. e. David ; see Ps. xxxvii. 16. 

2824. See 2 Cor. i. 12. 

2825. ' Riches are good unto him that hath no sin'; Ecclus. xiii. 24. 

2828. From Prov. xxii. i. 

2829. The reference seems to be to Prov. xxv. 10 in the Vulgate 
version (not in the A. V.) : — ' Gratia et amicitia liberant ; quas tibi 
serua, ne exprobrabilis fias.' 

2832. The reference is clearly to the following : — * Est enim indigni 
[«/. digni] animi signum, famae diligere commodum'; Cassiodorus, 
Variarum lib. i. epist. 4. This is quoted by Albertano (p. 120), with 
the reading iiigenici for indig7ii\ hence Chaucer's 'gentil.' Matzner 
refers us to the same, lib. v. epist. 12 : — ' quia pulchrum est commodum 

2833. ' Duae res sunt conscientia et fama. Conscientia tibi, fama 
proximo tuo ' ; Augustini Opera, ed. Caillou, Paris, 1842, torn, xxi. 
p. 347.— ^Ir. 

2837. Fr. text :— 'il est cruel et villain.'— Mr. 

2841. Lat. text : — ' nam dixit quidam philosophus. Nemo in guerra 
constitutus satis diues esse potest. Quantumcunque enim sit homo 
diues, oportet ilium, si in guerra diu perseuerauerit, aut diuitias aut 
guerram perdere, aut forte utrumque simul et personam.' — p. 102. 

2843. See Ecclesiastes, v. 11. 

2851. 'With the God of heaven it is all one, to deliver with a great 
multitude, or a small company : For the victory of battle standeth 
not in the multitude of an host ; but strength cometh from heaven.' 
I Mace. iii. 18, 19. 

2854. The gap is easily detected and filled up by comparison with 
the Fr. text, which Matzner cites from Le Menagier de Paris, i. 226, 
thus : — * pour ce . . . que nul n'est certain s'il est digne que Dieu lui doint 
victoire ne plus que il est certain se il est digne de r amour de Dieu ou 
non.' We must also compare the text from Solomon, viz. Ecclesiastes, 
ix. I, as it stands in the Vulgate version. 

2857. Outher-iuhyle, sometimes ; see note to 2733. 

2858. The secofide book of Kinges, i. e. Liber secundus Regum, now 
called 'the second book of Samuel.' The reference is to 2 Sam. xi. 25, 


where the Vulgate has : 'uariiis enim cuentus est belli ; nunc hunc et 
nunc ilium consumit gladius,' The A. V. varies. 

2860. In as niuchcl ; Fr. text : — ' tant comme il puet bonnement.' 
This accounts ior goodly, i. e. meetly, fitly, creditably. Cotgrave has : 
' Bonnement, well, fitly, aptly, handsomely, conveniently, orderly, to the 

28G1. Salomon; rather Jesus son of Sirach. 'He that loveth 
danger shall perish therein'; Ecclus, iii. 26. 

2863. The iverre . . nol/u'ng, ' war does not please you at all.' 

286G. Selnf Imne is a curious error for Se?iek, Seneca. For the 
Fr. text has: — ' Seneque dit en ses escrips,' according to Miitzner; 
and MS. Reg. 19 C. xi (leaf 63, col. 2) has ' Seneques.' There has 
clearly been confusion between Seneques and Seint iaqties. Hence 
the use of the pi. epistles is correct. The reference is to Seneca, 
Epist. 94, § 46 ; but Seneca, after all, is merely quoting Sallust : — 
'Nam Concordia paruae res crescunt, discordia maximae dilabuntur'; 
Sallust, Jugurtha, 10. 

2870. From Matt. v. 9. 

2872. Brige, strife, contention ; ¥. brigue, Low Lat. briga. 
'■ Brigue, s. f. ... debate, contention, altercation, litigious wrangling 
about any matter'; Cotgrave. See Brigiie in the New E. Diet. 

2876. Here HI. has prydc and despysing for homlinesse and 
dispreysinge, thus spoiling the sense. The allusion is to our common 
saying — Familiarity breeds contempt. 

2879. Syen, saw ; Cm. seyen ; Ln. sawe ; Cp. saugh. 

288L Lat. text (p. 107) : — ' scriptum est enim. Semper ab aliis 
dissensio incipiat, a te autem reconciliatio.' From Martinus Dumi- 
ensis, De Moribus, Sent. 49. 

2882. The prophete,\.t..Y>2,\\A\ Ps. xxxiv. 14. 

2883. The words ' as muchel as in thee is ' are an addition, due to 
the Fr. text : — ' tant comme tu pourras.' — Mr. 

2884. The use of to after pursue is unusual ; Matzner compares 
biseke to, in 2940 below and 2306 above. 

288G. From Prov. xxviii. 14. 

289L Fr. text : — ' Pour ce dit le philosophe, que les troubles ne sont 
pas bien cler voyans.' Cf. the Fr. proverb : — ' A I'oeil malade la 
lumiere nuit, an eie distempered cannot brook the light ; sick thoughts 
cannot indure the truth'; Cotgrave. 

2895, From Prov. xxviii. 23. 

2897. This quotation is merely an expansion of the former part of 
Eccles. vii. 3, viz. ' sorrow is better than laughter '; the latter part of 
the same verse appears in 2900, immediately below. 

290L I shal 7iot conne ansivere, I shall not be able to answer; Fr. 
text : — ' ie ne sauroie respondre.' — Mr. 

2909. From Prov. xvi. 7. 

29L5. Fr. text : — ' ie met tout mon fait en vostre disposition.' 

LI. 2860-3045] THE TALE OF MELIBEUS. 223 

2925. Referring to Ps. xx. 4 (Vulgate) — *in benedictionibus dulce- 
dinis'; A. V.— 'with the blessings of goodness,' Ps. xxi. 3. 

2930. From Ecclus. vi. 5 : — ' Verbum dulce multiplicat amicos, et 
mitigat inimicos.' The A. V. omits the latter clause, having only: — 
' Sweet language will multiply friends.' 

2931. Fr. text:— 'nous mettons nostra fait en vostre bonne vou- 
lente.' — Mr. 

293G. Hise aviendes, i.e. amends to him. For hise or his, Cp. Ln. 
have him, which is a more usual construction. Cf. ' What shall be thy 
amends For thy neglect of truth ? ' Shak., Sonnet loi. 'If I have 
wronged thee, seek thy jnends at the law'; Greene, Looking-Glass for 
London, ed. Dyce, 1883, p. 122. 

2940. Biseke to ; so in 2306 ; see note to 2884. 

2945. From Ecclus. xxxiii. 18, 19: — 'Hear me, O ye great men of 
the people, and hearken with your ears, ye rulers of the congregation : 
Give not thy son and wife, thy brother and friend, power over thee 
while thou livest.' 

2965. Not from Seneca, but from Martinus Dumiensis, De Moribus, 
S. 94 (Sundby). The Lat. text has: — ' ubi est confessio, ibi est 

29G7. Neither is this from Seneca, but from the same source as 
before. The Lat. text has : — ' Proximum ad innocentiam locum tenet 
uerecundia peccati et confessio.' 

2973. Lat. text : — ' Nihil enim tam naturale est, quam aliquid dissolui 
eo genere, quo colligatum est.' From the Digesta, lib. xvii. 35. 

2984. Lat. text : — ' Semper audiui dici. Quod bene potes facere, noli 
differre.' Fr. text : — ' Le bien que tu pens faire au matin, n'attens pas 
le soir ne I'endemain.' 

2986. Messages, messengers ; Cp. messagers ; HI. messageres. See 
B. 144, 333. In 2992, 2995, ^^'^ have the form messagers. 

2997. Borwes, sureties; as in P. Plowman, C. v. 85. In 3018 it 
seems to mean ' pledges ' rather than ' sureties.' 

3028. A coveitoiis name, a reputation for covetousness. 

3030. From 1 Tim. vi. 10. See C. 334. 

3032. Lat. text (p. 120) :— 'Scriptum est enim, Mallem perdidisse 
quam turpiter accepisse.' This is from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 479 :— 

* Perdidisse ad assem mallem, quam accepisse turpiter.' 

3036. Also from P. Syrus, Sent. 293 :— 

' Laus noua nisi oritur, etiam uetus amittitur.' 

3040. For 'it is writen,' the Fr. text has 'le droit dit.' This 
indicates the source. The Lat. text has : — ' priuilegium meretur 
amittere, qui concessa sibi abutitur potestate.' This Sundby traces to 
the Decretalia Gregorii IX., iii. 31. 18. 

3042. Which I irowe . . do; Lat. ' quod non concedo.' 

3045. Ye mosie . . curieisly ; Lat. * remissius imperare oportet.' 


3047. Lat. text: — ' Remissius imperanti melius paretur'; from 
Seneca, De dementia, i. 24. i. 

3049. 'Ait enim Seneca'; the Lat. text then quotes from Publilius 
Syrus, Sent. 64: — 'Bis uincit, qui se uincit in uictoria.' 

3050. Lat. text: — 'Nihil est laudabilius, nihil magno et praeclaro 
uiro dignius, placabilitate atque dementia.' From Cicero, De Officiis, 
i. 25. 88. 

3054. Of mercy, i.e. on account of your mercy. 
3056. 'Male uincit iam quern poenitet uictoriae'; Publilius Syrus, 
Sent. 366. Attributed to Seneca in the Latin text. 
3059. From James, ii. 13. 

3066. Uticonmngc, ignorance; cf. Ayenbite of Inwyt, p. 131 ; Prick 
•of Conscience, 1. 169. 

3007. Misborfi, borne amiss, misconducted. See Life of Beket, 
1. 1248. 

The Monk's Prologue. 

3079. The tale oiMelihec (as told above) is about a certain Melibeus 
and his wife Prudence, who had a daughter called Sophie. One day, 
while Melibeus is absent, three of his enemies break into his house, 
beat his wife, and wound his daughter. On returning, he takes counsel 
as to what must be done. He is for planning a method of revenge, 
but his wife advises him to forgive the injuries, and in the end her 
counsels prevail. 

3082. corptcs Madrian, body of Madrian : which has been inter- 
preted in two ways. Urry guessed it to refer to St. Materne, bishop of 
Treves, variously commemorated on the 14th, 19th, or 25th of Sep- 
tember, the days of his translations being July 18 and October 23. 
Mr. Steevens suggested, in a note printed in Tyrwhitt's Glossary, that 
the ' precious body ' was that of St. Mathurin, priest and confessor, com- 
memorated on Nov. I or Nov. 9. The latter is more likely, since in his 
story in the Golden Legende, edit. 1527, leaf 151 back, the expressions 
'the precious body' and 'the holy body' occur, and the story explains 
that his body would not stay in the earth till it was carried back to 
France, where he had given directions that it should be buried. 

3083. ' Rather than have a barrel of ale, would I that my dear good 
wife had heard this story.' Cf. morsel breed, B. 3624. 

lief is not a proper name, as has been suggested, I believe, by some 
one ignorant of early English idiom. Cf. ' Dear my lord,' Jul. Caesar, 
ii. I. 255 ; and other instances in Abbott's Shakesp. Grammar, sect. 13. 

3101. 'Who is willing (or who suffers himself) to be overborne by 

3108. neighebor, three syllables ; tha7ine, two syllables. 

3112. Observe the curious use oi seith for misseith. 

3114. Monk. See him described in the Prologue, A. 165. 

3116. Rouchester. The MSS. have RoKchesier, (HI. Rowchesire), 

LI. 3047-157] THE MONK'S PROLOGUE. 225 

shewing that Lo stands alone in the first foot of the line. Tyrwhitt 
changed sta7it into siimdeth, but all our seven MSS. have staiit. 

According to the arrangement of the tales in Tyrwhitt's edition, the 
pilgrims reach Rochester after coming to Sittingborne (mentioned in 
the Wife of Bath's Prologue), though the latter is some eleven miles 
nearer Canterbury. The present arrangement of the Groups remedies 
this. See note to B. 1165, at p. 165. 

3117. Ryd forth, ride forward, draw near us. 

3119. IV/icr, whether, dan, for Dominus, a title of respect com- 
monly used in addressing monks. But Chaucer even uses it of Arcite, 
in the Knightes Tale, and of Cupid, Ho. Fame, 137. 

3120. The monk's name was Piers. See B. 3982, and the note. 
3124. Cf. * He was not pale as a for-pyned goost'; Prol. A. 205. 

Jean de Meun says, in his Testament, 1. 1073, that the friars have 
good pastures (il ont bonnes pastures). 

3127. as to my dootn, in my judgment. 

3130. Scan the line — Biit a governoiir wyly and wys. The Petworth 
MS. inserts 'bo))' before 'wyly': but this requires the very unlikely 
accentuation ' governour ' and an emphasis on a. The line would scan 
better if we might insert art, or lyk, after But, but there is no authority 
for this. 

3132. Read — A wdl-faring persdn'e, after which comes the pause, as 
marked in E. and Hn. 

3139. The monk's semi-cope, which seems to have been an ample 
one, is mentioned in the Prologue, A. 262. In Jack Upland, § 4, 
a friar is asked what is signified by his ' wide cope.* 

3142. ' Shaven very high on his crown ' ; alluding to the tonsure. 

3144. the corn, i.e. the chief part or share. 

3145. borelmen, lay-men. Borel means ' rude, unlearned, ignorant,' 
and seems to have arisen from a peculiar use of borel or biirel, sb., 
a coarse cloth ; so that its original sense, as an adj., was ' in coarse 
clothing,' or * rudely clad.' See barrel and burel in the ^New Eng. 
Dictionary. 'v 

shri}f!pes, diminutive or poor creatures. 

3146. %vrecched impes, poor grafts, weakly shoots. Cf. A. S. impian, 
to graft, imp, a graft ; borrowed from Low Lat. impotus^ a graft, 
from Gk. f^Kpvros, engrafted. 

3152. lussheburghes, light coins. In P. Plowman, B. xv. 342, we are 
told that 'in Lussheborwes is a lyther alay (bad alloy), and yet loketh 
he lyke a sterlynge.' They were spurious coins imported into England 
from Luxembourg, whence the name. See Liber Albus, ed. Riley, 
1841, p. 495 ; and Blount's Nomolexicon. Luxembourg is called 
Lusscheburghe in the Allit. Morte Arthure, 1. 2388. The importation of 
this false money was frequently forbidden, viz. in 1347, 1348, and 1351. 

3157. souneth into, tends to, is consistent with ; see Prol. A. 307, and 
Sq. Ta., F. 517. The following extracts from Palsgrave's French 
Dictionary are to the point. ' I sownde, I appartayne or belong, letens. 

:{: * * 

* * 



Thys thyng sowndeth to a good puqDOse, Ceste chose tent a bonne fin.^ 
Also, ' I sownde, as a tale or a report sowndeth to ones honesty or 
dyshonesty, le redondc. I promise you that this matter sowndeth moche 
to your dishonoure, le vous promets que ceste matycre 7edo7ide fort 
a votre dcshonneur^ 

3160. Sehit Edward. There are two of the name, viz. Edward, king 
and martyr, commemorated on March l6, i8, or 19, and the second 
King Edward, best known as Edward the Confessor, commemorated on 
Jan. 5. In Piers the Plowman, B. xv. 217, we have — 

' Edmonde and Edwarde " eyther were kynges, 
And seyntes ysette • tyl charite hem folwed.' 

But Edward the Confessor is certainly meant ; and there is a remarkable 
story about him that he was ' warned of hys death certain dayes before 
hee dyed, by a ring that was brought to him by certain pilgrims coming 
from Hierusalem, which ring hee hadde secretly given to a poore man 
thataskydhys charitie in the name of God and sainte Johanthe Evan- 
gelist.' See Mr. Wright's description of Ludlow Church, where are 
some remains of a stained glass window representing this story, in the 
eastern wall of the chapel of St. John. See also Chambers, Book of 
Days, i. 53, 54, where we read — ' The sculptures upon the frieze of the 
present shrine (in Westminster Abbey) represent /ourteen scenes in the 
life of Edward the Confessor. . . . He was canonized by Pope Alexander 
about a century after his death. . . . He was esteemed ihe patron-saiftt 
of England until superseded in the thirteenth century by St. George.' 
These fourteen scenes are fully described in Brayley's Hist, of West- 
minster Abbey, in an account which is chiefly taken from a life of 
St. Edward written by Ailred of Rievaulx in 1163. Three ' Lives of 
Edward the Confessor ' were edited, for the Master of the Rolls, by 
Mr. Luard in 1858. See Morley's Eng. Writers, 1888, ii. 375. 

3162. celle, cell. The monk calls it his cell because he was 'the 
keper' of it ; Prol. 172. 

3163. Tragedie; the final ie might be slurred over before ts,'m 
which case we might read for to for to (see footnote) ; but it is 
needless. The definition of ' tragedy ' here given is repeated from 
Chaucer's own translation of Boethius, which contains the remark — 
' Glose. Tragedie is to seyn, a ditee [ditty] of a prosperitee for a tyme, 
that endeth in wrecchednesse ' ; bk. ii. pr. 2. 51. This remark is 
Chaucer's own, as the word Glose marks his addition to, or gloss upon, 
his original. His remark refers to a passage in Boethius immediately 
preceding, viz. * Quid tragoediartivi clamor aliud deflet, nisi iridiscreto 
ictu fortunam felicia regna uertentem ? ' De Consolatione Philosophiae, 
lib. ii. prosa 2. See also the last stanza of ' Cresus ' in the Monkes 
Tale (vol. i. p. 268). 

3169. exavietron, hexameter. Chaucer is speaking of Latin, not of 
English verse ; and refers to the common Latin hexameter used in 
heroic verse ; he would especially be thinking of the Thebaid of Statius, 


the Metamorphoseon Liber of Ovid, the Aeneid of Vergil, and Lucan's 
Pharsalia. This we could easily have guessed, but Chaucer has 
himself told us what was in his thoughts. For near the conclusion of 
his Troilus and Criseyde, which he calls a tragcdie, he says — 

* And kis the steppes wheras thou seest pace 
Virgile, Ovyde, Omer, Liccan, and Stace' 

Lucan is expressly cited in B. 401, 3909. 

3170. In prose. For example, Boccaccio's De Casibus Virorum and 
De Claris Mulieribus contain 'tragedies' in Latin prose. Cf. 11. 3655, 

317L in vieire. For example, the tragedies of Seneca are in various 
metres, chiefly iambic. See also note to 1. 3285. 

3177. After hir ages, according to their periods ; in chronological 
order. The probable allusion is to Boccaccio's De Casibus Virorum, 
which begins with Adam and Nimrod, and keeps tolerably to the right 
order. For further remarks on this, shewing how Chaucer altered the 
order of these Tragedies in the course of revision, see vol. iii. p. 428. 

The Menkes Tale. 

For some account of this Tale, see vol. iii. p. 427. 

3181. Tragedie\ accented on the second syllable, and riming with 
remMte\ cf. B. 3163. Very near the end of Troilus and Criseyde, 
we find Chaucer riming it with covu'die. That poem he also calls 
a tragedie (v. 1786) — 

'Go, litel book, go, litel myn tragedie^ &c. 

3183. fillen, fell, nas no, for ne was no, a double negative. Cf. Ch. 
tr. of Boethius — 'the olde age of tyme passed, and eek of present 
tyme now, is ful of ensaumples how that kinges ben chaunged in-to 
wrecchednesse out of hir welefulnesse ' ; bk. iii. pr. 5. 3. 

3186. The Harl. MS. has — ' Ther may no man the cours of hir 
whiel holde,' which Mr. Wright prefers. But the reading of the Six-text 
is well enough here ; for in the preceding line Chaucer is speaking 
of Fortune under the image of a person fleeing away, to which he adds, 
that no one C2S\. stay her course. Fortune is also sometimes represented 
as stationary, and holding an ever-turning wheel, as in the Book of 
the Duchesse, 643 ; but that is another picture. 

3188. Be war by, take warning from. 


3189. Lucifer, a Latin name signifying light-bringer, and properly 
applied to the morning-star. In Isaiah xiv. 12 the Vulgate has — ' Quo- 
modo cecidisti de caelo, Lucifer, qui mane oriebaris? corruisti in terram, 
qui uulnerabas gentes?' &c. St. Jerome, Tertullian, St. Gregory, and 

Q 2 


other fathers, supposed this passage to apply to the fall of Satan. It 
became a favourite topic for writers both in prose and verse, and the 
allusions to it are innumerable. See note to Piers the Plowman, B. i. 105 
(Clar. Press Series). Govver begins his eighth book of the Confessio 
Amantis with the examples of Lucifer and Adam. 

Sandras, in his Etude sur Chaucer, p. 248, quotes some French lines 
from a ' Volucniire,' which closely agree with this first stanza. But it 
is a common theme. 

3192. slfine, the sin o{ pride, as in all the accounts; probably from 
I Tim. iii. 6. Thus Gower, Conf. Amant. lib. i. (ed. Pauli, i. 153) : — 

* For Lucifer, with them that felle, 
Bar pride with him into helle. 
Ther was pride of to grete cost, 
Whan he for pride hath heven lost.' 

3195. arioiv, art thou. Sathanas, Satan. The Hebrew saichi means 
simply an adversary, as in i Sam. xxix. 4 ; 2 Sam. xix. 22 ; &c. A 
remarkable application of it to the evil spirit is in Luke x. 18. Milton 
also indentifies Lucifer with Satan; Par. Lost, vii. 131 ; x. 425 ; but 
they are sometimes distinguished, and made the names of two different 
spirits. See, for example, Piers Plowman, B. xviii. 270-283. 

3196. Read viiserie, after which follows the metrical pause. 


3W7. Boccaccio's De Casibus Virorum Illustrium begins with a 
chapter ' De Adam et Eua.' It contains the passage — ' Et exagro, qui 
postea Datnascenus, . . . ductus in Paradisum deliciarum.' Lydgate, in 
his Fall of Princes (fol. a 5), has— 

* Of slyme of the erthe, in damascene the feelde, 
God made theym abouc eche creature.' 

The notion of the creation of Adam in a field whereupon afterwards 
stood Damascus, occurs in Peter Comestor's Historia Scholastica, 
where we find (ed. 1526, fol. vii) — ' Quasi quereret aliquis, Remansit 
homo in loco vbi factus est, in agro scilicet damasceno ? Non. Vbi 
ergo translatus est ? In paradisum.' See also Maundeville's Travels, 
cap. XV ; Genesis and Exodus, ed. Morris, 1. 207 ; and note in Matzner's 
Altenglische Sprachproben, ii. 185. 

3199. Cf. * Formatus est homo . . de spurcissimo spermate'; 
Innocent III., De Miseria Conditionis Humanae, i. I (Koppel). 

3200. So Boccaccio — *0 caeca rerum cupiditas ! Hii, quibus rerwn 
omnium., dante Deo, erat imperiion^ &c. Cf. Gen. i. 29 ; ii. 16. 


3205. The story of Sampson is also in Boccaccio, lib. i. c. 17 (not 
19, as Tyrwhitt says). But Chaucer seems mostly to have followed 

LI. 3192-235] THE MONKES TALE: SAMPSON. 229 

the account in Judges, xiii-xvi. The word annunciat, referring to the 
announcement of Samson's birth by the angel (Judges xiii. 3), may have 
been suggested by Boccaccio, whose account begins — ' Praenutictante 
per angelum Deo, ex Manue Israhclita quodam et pulcherrima eius 
vxore Sanson progenitus est.' ihangel'm. I. -^206 = i he angel. 

3207. consecrat, consecrated. A good example of the use of the 
ending -at ; cf. situate for situated. — M. Shakespeare has consecrate ; 
Com. of. Err. ii. 2. 134. 

3208. luhyl he viighte see, as long as he preserved his eyesight. 

3210. To speke 0/ sirengthe, with regard to strength ; to spoke of is 
a kind of preposition.— M. Cf. Milton's Samson Agonistes, 126-150. 

3211. ivyves. Samson told the secret of his riddle to his wife. Judges 
xiv. 17 ; and of his strength to Delilah, id. xvi. 17. 

3215. al to-rente, completely rent in twain. The prefix to- has two 
powers in Old English. Sometimes it is the preposition to in composi- 
tion, as in towards, or M. E. to-flight ((}. zu/lucht), a refuge. 15ut more 
commonly it is a prefix signifying /« tivain, spelt zer- in German, and 
dis- in Moeso-Gothic and Latin. Thus to-rente=rfRi in twain ; to- 
^raj/= burst in twain, &c. The intensive adverb al, utterly, was used 
not merely (as is commonly supposed) before verbs beginning with to-, 
but in other cases also. Thus, in William of Palerne, 1. 872, we find — 
'He was al a-wondred^ where al precedes the intensive prefix a- = 
A. S. of. Again, in the same poem, 1. 661, we have — ^ al bi-weped for 
wo,' where al now precedes the prefix bi-. In Barbour's Bruce, ed. 
Skeat, x. 596, is the expression — 

'For, hapnyt ony to slyde or fall, 
He suld be soyne to-fruschit aU 

Where al to-Jruschit means utterly broken in pieces. Perhaps the 
clearest example of the complete separability of al from to is seen in 
1. 3884 of William of Palerne ; — 

' Al to-tare his atir • J>at he to-tere mijt ' ; 

i. e. he entirely tore apart his attire, as much of it as he could tear apart. 
But at a later period of English, when the prefix to- was less understood, 
a new and mistaken notion arose of regarding al to as a separable 
prefix, with the sense oi all to pieces. I have observed no instance of 
this use earlier than the reign of Henry VIII. Thus Surrey, Sonnet 9, 
has ^al-to shaken' for shaken to pieces. Latimer has — 'they love 
and al-to love (i.e. entirely love) him'; Serm. p. 289. For other 
examples, see Al-to in the Bible W'ord-book ; and my notes in Notes 
and Queries, 3 Ser. xii. 464, 535 ; also All, § C. 15, in the New E. Diet. 
3220. Samson's wife was given to a friend ; Judges, xiv. 20. She 
was afterwards burnt by her own people ; Judges, xv. 6. 

3224. on every tayl ; one brand being fastened to the tails of two 
foxes ; Judg. xv. 4. 

3225. comes. The Vulgate has segetes and fruges ; also uineas for 


vynes, and oliuda for oliveres. The plural form comes is not un- 
common in Early English. Cf. * Quen thair corns war in don,' i. e. 
when their harvests were gathered in ; Spec, of Eng. pt. ii. ed. Morris 
and Skcat, p. 70, I. 39. And again, * alle men-sleeris and brenneris of 
houses and comes [misprinted co7^es\ ben cursed opynly in parische 
chirches'; Wyclif's Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 329. 

32.34. ivang-toih, molar tooth. This expression is taken from the 
Vulgate, which has — ' Apcruit itaque Dominus mohvein deniem in 
maxilla asini '; where the A. V. has only — ' an hollow place that was in 
the jaw'; Judg. xv. 19. 

3236. Judicum, i. e. Liber Judicum, the Look of Judges. Cf. note 
to B. 93, at p. 141. 

3237. Gasaji, a corruption of Gazam, the ace. case, in Judg. xvi. I, 
Vulgate version. 

3244. fie hadde been, there would not have been. Since hadde is 
here the subjunctive mood, it is dissyllabic. Read — tuorlde n' hadde. 

3245. sicer, from the Lat. sicera, Greek aiKepa, strong drink, is the 
word which we now spell ci'dt-r ; see Wyclif s Works, ed. Arnold, 
i. 363, note. It is used here because found in the Vulgate version of 
Judges xiii. 7 ; ' caue ne uinum bibas, nee s/ceram.' I slightly amend 
the spelling of the MSS., which have a'ser, siser, sythir, cyder. Wyclif 
has siiher, cyt/ier, sidir, sydur. 

3249. twefi/y ivinter, twenty years ; Judg. xvi. 31. The English 
used to reckon formerly by wtniers instead o( years ; as may be seen 
in a great many passages in the A. S. Chronicle. 

3253. DaHda; from Gk. AaXiSd, in the Septuagint. The Vulgate has 
Dalila ; but Chaucer (or his scribes) naturally adopted a form which 
seemed to have a nearer resemblance to an accusative case, such 
being, at that time, the usual practice ; cf. Briseide (from Briseida), 
Criseyde and Anelida. Lydgate also uses the form Dalida. 

3259. in t/iis array, in this (defenceless) condition. 

3264. qtierne, hand-mill. The Vulgate has — 'et clausum in carcere 
molere fecerunt'; Judg. xvi. 21. But Boccaccio says— 'ad violas 
manuarias coegere.' The word occurs in the House of Fame, 1798; 
and in Wyclifs Bible, Exod. xi. 5 ; Mat. xxiv. 41. In the Ayenbite of 
Inwyt, ed. Morris, p. 181, the story of Samson is alluded to, and it is 
said of him that he ' uil \fcir\ into J)e honden of his yuo [/oes], pet him 
deden grinde ale qtiejne ssamuoUiche,' i. e. who made him grind at the 
mill shamefully (in a shameful manner). Lydgate copies Chaucer 
rather closely, in his Fall of Princes, fol. e 7 : — 

'And of despite, after as I fynde. 
At their quenies made hym for to grinde.' 

3269. Thende, the end. G?////" means (i) a captive, (2) a wretch. 
It is therefore used here very justly. 

3274. two pliers, better than the reading tiie pilers of MS. E. ; 
because two are expressly mentioned ; Judg. x\i. 29. 


3282. So Boccaccio — ' Sic aduersa credulitas, sic amantis pietas, sic 
niulieris egit inclyta fides. Vt qnem non poterant homines, non 
uincula, non ferrum uincere, a mulieribus latrunculis uinceretur.' 
Lydgate has the expressions — 

* Beware by Sampson your counseyll well to kepe, 
Though \inisprinied That] Dalida compleyne, crye, and wepe'; 
and again : — 

* Suffre no nightworm within your counseyll crepe, 
Though Dalida compleyne, crj'e, and wepe.' 


3285. There is little about Hercules in Boccaccio ; but Chaucer's 
favourite author, Ovid, has his story in the Metamorphoses, book ix, 
and Heroides, epist. 9. Tyrwhitt, however, has shewn that Chaucer 
more immediately copies a passage in Boethius, de Cons. Phil. lib. iv. 
met. 7, which is as follows : — 

* Herculem duri celebrant labores ; 
Ille Centauros domuit superbos ; 
Abstulit saeuo spolium leoni ; 
Fixit et certis uolucres sagittis ; 
Poma cernenti rapuit draconi, 
Aureo laeuam grauior metallo ; 
Cerberum traxit triplici catena. 
\'ictor imniitem posuisse fertur 
Pabulum saeuis dominum quadrigis. 
Hydra combusto periit ueneno ; 
Fronte turpatus Achelous amnis 
Ora demersit pudibunda ripis. 
Strauit Antaeum Libycis arenis, 
Cacus Euandri satiauit iras, 
Ouosque pressurus foret altus orbis 
Setiger spumis humeros notauit. 
Ultimus caelum labor irreflexo 
Sustulit collo, pretiumque rursus 
Ultimi caelum meruit laboris.' 

But it is still more interesting to see Chaucer's own version of this 
passage, which is as follows (ed. Morris, p. 147 ; cf. vol. ii. p. 125) : — 
'Hercules is celebrable for his harde trauaile ; he dawntede J'e 
proude Centauris, half hors, half man ; and he rafte J^e despoylynge 
fro ])e cruel lyoun ; })at is to seyne, he slou3 \^ lyoun and rafte hym 
hys skyn. He smot Jjc birds J)at hyjten arpijs in ))e palude of lyrne 
wi)» certeyne arwes. He rauyssede applis fro \q. wakyng dragoun, & 
hys hand was J)e more heuy for |)e goldene metal. He drou5 Cerberus 
jje hound of helle by his treble cheyne ; he, ouer-comer, as it is seid, 
ha]) put an vnmeke lorde fodre to his cruel hors ; J)is is to sein, ]'at 


herculcs slouj diomcdes and made his hors to etyn hym. And he, 
hercules, slouj Idra ]>e serpent &. brcnde ]>e venym ; and achelaus \>g. 
flode, defoulede in his forhede, dreinte his shamefast visage in his 
strondes ; \>\s is to seyn, J)at achelaus cou))e transfigure hymself into 
dyuerse lykenesse, & as he faujt wi|) ercules, at \)e laste he turnide 
hym in-to a bole [/-'////] ; and hercules brak of oon of hys homes, 
& achelaus for shame hidde hym in hys r)'uer. And he, hercules, 
caste adoun Antheus \>c geaunt in \>e strondes of libye ; & kacus 
apaisede \>e wra))))es of euander ; J)is is to sein, ))at hercules slouj ))e 
monstre kacus & apaisede \v\\> )>at deej) j'e wra))))e of euander. And 
J;c bristlede boor markede wi)) scomes [scums, foam] |;e sholdrcs of 
hercules, \)C whiche sholdres ^e heye cercle of heuene sholde f)reste 
[tvos to rest upoti]. And \c laste of his labours was, ))at he sustenede 
^e heuene upon his nekke unbowed ; & he deseruede eftsoncs |)e 
heuene, to ben J>e pris of his laste trauayle.' 

And in his House of Fame, book iii. (1. 1413), he mentions — 

* Alexander, and Hercules, 
That with a sherte his lyf lees.' 

3288. Hercules' first labour was the slaying of the Nemean lion, 
whose skin he often afterwards wore. 

3289. Ccntauros ; this is the very form used by Boethius, else we 
might have expected Cenlaurus or Centawes. After the destruction 
of the Erymanthian boar, Hercules slew Pholus the centaur; and 
(by accident) Chiron. His slaughter of the centaur Nessus ultimately 
brought about his own death ; cf. 1. 3318. 

3290. Arpies, harpies. The sixth labour was the destruction of the 
Stymphalian birds, who ate human flesh. 

3291. The eleventh labour was the fetching of the golden apples, 
guarded by the dragon Ladon, from the garden of the Hesperides. 

3292. The twelfth labour was the bringing of Cerberus from the 
lower world. 

3293. Biisirus. Here Chaucer has confused two stories. One is, 
that Busiris, a king of Egypt, used to sacrifice all foreigners who came 
to Egypt, till the arrival of Hercules, who slew him. The other is 'the 
eighth labour,' when Hercules killed Diomedes, a king in Thrace, 
who fed his mares with human flesh, till Hercules slew him and gave 
his body to be eaten by the mares, as Chaucer himself says in his 
translation. The confusion was easy, because the story of Busiris 
is mentioned elsewhere by Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 6, in a passage which 
Chaucer thus translates (see vol. ii. p. 43) : — ' I have herd told of 
Busirides, j)at was wont to sleen his gestes [guests'] })at herberweden 
[lodged] in his hous ; and he was sleyn him-self of Ercules ))at was 
his gest.' Lydgate tells the story of Busiris correctly. 

3295. serpettt, i.e. the Lernean hydra, whom Chaucer, in the passage 
from Boethius, calls ' Idra [d7r Ydra] the serpent.' 

3296. Achelois, seems to be used here as a genitive form from 


a nominative Achelo ; in his translation of Boethius we find Achelous 
and Achelmis. The spelling of names by old authors is often vague. 
The line means — he broke one of the two horns of Achelous. The 
river-god Achelous, in his fight with Hercules, took the form of a bull, 
whereupon the hero broke off one of his horns. 

3297. The adventures with Cacus and Antaeus are well known. 

3299. The fourth labour was the destruction of the Erj^manthian 

3300. lottge, for a long time ; in the margin of MS. Camb. Univ. 
Lib. Dd. 4. 24, is written the gloss diu. 

3307. The allusion is to the ' pillars ' of Hercules. The expression 
* both ends of the world ' refers to the extreme points of the continents 
of Europe and Africa, ivorld standing here for continent. The story 
is that Hercules erected two pillars, Calpe and Abyla, on the two sides 
of the Strait of Gibraltar. The words ' seith Trophee ' seem to refer 
to an author named Trophaeus. In Lydgate's prologue to his Fall of 
Princes, st. 41, he says of Chaucer that — 

' In youth he made a translacion 
Of a boke whiche called is Trophe 
In Lumbarde tonge, as men may rede and se ; 
And in our vulgar, long er that he deyde. 
Gave it the name of Troylus and Creseyde.' 

This seems to say that Trophe was the Italian name of a Book (or 
otherwise, the name of a book in Italian), whence Chaucer drew his 
story of Troilus. But the notion must be due to some mistake, 
since that work was taken from the 'Filostrato' of Boccaccio. The 
only trace of the name of Trophaeus as an author is in a marginal 
note — possibly Chaucer's own — which appears in both the Ellesmere 
and Hengwrt MSS., viz. ' Ille vates Chaldeorum Tropheus.' See, 
however, vol. ii. p. Iv, where I shew that, in this passage at any 
rate, Trophee really refers to Guido delle Colonne, who treats of the 
deeds of Hercules in the first book of his Historia Troiana, and 
makes particular mention of the famous columns (as to which Ovid 
and Boethius are alike silent). 

3311. tiiise clcrkes, meaning probably Ovid and Boccaccio. See 
Ovid's Heroides, epist. ix., entitled Deianira Herculi, and Metamorph. 
lib. ix. ; Boccaccio, De Casibus Virorum Illustrium, lib. i. cap. xviii., 
and De Mulieribus Claris, cap. xxii. See also the Trachineae of 
Sophocles, which Chaucer of course never read. 

£315. wered, wojti ; so in A. 75, and B. 3320, ivered is the form of the 
past tense. Instances of verbs with weak preterites in Chaucer, but 
strong ones in modem English, are rare indeed ; but there are several 
instances of the contrary, e. g. ivep, slep, tuesh, wex, now wept, slept^ 
washed, waxed. Wore is due to analogy with bore ; cf. could for cotid. 

3317. Both Ovid and Boccaccio represent Deianira as ignorant of 
the fatal effects which the shirt would produce. See Ovid, Metam. 


ix. 133. Had Chaucer written later, he might have included Cower 
among the clerks, as the latter gives the story of Hercules and 
Deianira in his Conf. Amantis, lib, ii. (ed, Pauli, i. 236), following 
Ovid. Thus he says — 

'With wepend eye and woful herte 
She tok out thilke vnhappy sherte, 
As she that wende wel to do.' 

3326. For long upbraidings of Fortune, see The Boke of the 
Duchesse, 617 ; Rom. Rose, 5407 ; Boethius, bk. i. met. 5 ; &;c. 


3335, Nabugodonosor ; generally spelt Nabuchodo7iosor in copies of 
the Vulgate, of which this other spelling is a mere variation. Gower 
has the same spelling as Chaucer, and relates the story near the end of 
book i. of the Conf, Amantis (ed. Pauli, i, 136). Both no doubt took 
it directly from Daniel i-iv, 

3338, The vessel is here an imitation of the French idiom ; F, 
vaisselle means the plate, as Mr. Jephson well observes. Cf. 1, 3494. 

3349. In the word statue the second syllable is rapidly slurred over, 
like that in glorie in 1. 3340, See the same effect in the Kn. Tale, 
11. 117, 1097 (A. 975, 1955). 

3356, t7veye, two ; a strange error for three, whose names are 
familiar ; viz, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, 


3373, Balthasar ; so spelt by Boccaccio, who relates the story very 
briefly, De Cas, Virorum Illust., lib. ii. cap. 19. So also, by Peter 
Comestor, in his Historia Scholastica ; and by Gower, Conf. Amant., 
lib, v (ed, Pauli, ii, 365), The Vulgate generally has Baltassar\ 
Daniel, cap, v. 

3379. and iher he lay; cf. 1. 3275 above, 

3384, The word tho is supplied for the metre. The scribes have 
considered vesselles {sic) as a trisyllable ; but see 11. 3391, 3416, 3418. 

3388. Of, for. Cf, ' thank God of al,' i, e. for all ; in Chaucer's 
Balade of Trutlf. — M. See note in vol. i. pp. 552-3. 

3422. Tyrwhitt has triisteth, in the plural, but thou is used through- 
out. Elsewhere Chaucer also has ' on whom we trusted Prol, A, 501 ; 
* truste oil fortune,' B. 3326 ; cf, ' syker on to trosten,' P. PI. Crede, 
1. 350. 

3427, Ddrius, so accented, degree, rank, position, 

8429-36. I have no doubt that this stanza was a later addition, 

3436. provcrbe. The allusion is, in the first place, to Boethius, de 
Cons. Phil., bk. iii. pr. 5 — 'Sed quern felicitas amicum fecit, infortunium 

LI. 3336-442.] THE MONKES TALE: ZENOBIA. 235 

faciet inimicum '; which Chaucer translates — ' Certes, swiche folk as 
weleful fortune maketh freendes, contrarious fortune maketh hem 
enemys'; see vol, ii. p. 6^. Cf. Prov. xix. 4 — 'Wealth maketh many 
friends ; but the poor is separated from his neighbour,' &c. So also 
— ' If thou be brought low, he [i. e. thy friend] will be against thee, and 
will hide himself from thy face'; Ecclus. vi. 12. In Hazlitt's Collection 
of English Proverbs, p. 235, we find — 

* In time of prosperity, friends will be plenty ; 
In time of adversity, not one among twenty.' 

See also note to 1. 120 above; and, not tp multiply instances, note 
St. 19 of Goldsmith's Hermit : — 

'And what is friendship but a name, 

A charm that lulls to sleep ; 
A s/uufe that folloxvs wealtJi or fatiie, 
And leaves the wretch to weep ? ' 


3437. Cenobia. The story of Zenobia is told by Trebellius Pollio, 
who flourished under Constantine, in cap. xxix. of his work entitled Tri- 
ginta Tyranni ; but Chaucer no doubt followed later accounts, one of 
which was clearly that given by Boccaccio in his De Mulieribus Claris, 
cap. xcviii. Boccaccio relates her story again in his De Casibus Viro- 
rum, lib. viii. c. 6 ; in an edition of which, printed in 1544, I find 
references to the biography of Aurelian by Flavius Vopiscus, to the 
history of Orosius, lib. vii. cap. 23, and to Baptista Fulgosius, lib. iv. 
cap. 3. See, in particular, chap. xi. of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of 
the Roman Empire, where the story of Zenobia is given at length. 
Palmyra is described by Pliny, Nat. Hist. lib. v. cap. 21. Zenobia's 
ambition tempted her to endeavour to make herself a Queen of the 
East, instead of remaining merely Queen of Palmyra ; but she was 
defeated by the Roman emperor Aurelian, A. D. 273, and carried to 
Rome, where she graced his triumph, a. d. 274. She survived this 
reverse of fortune for some years. 

Palimerie. Such is the spelling in the best MSS. ; but MS. HI. 
reads — 'of Palmire the queene.' It is remarkable that MS. Trin. Coll. 
Cam. R. 3. 19 has the reading — 'Cenobia, of Belmary quene,' which 
suggests confusion with Bel marie, in the Prol. A. 57 ; but see the note 
to that line. It occupied the site of the ancient Tadmor, or ' city of 
palmtrees,' in an oasis of the Great Syrian desert. It has been in ruins 
since about A. D. 1400. 

3441. In the second 7ie in, the e is slurred over; cf. niu, Sq. Ta., 


3442. Perse. This (like 1. 3438) is Chaucer's mistake. Boccaccio says 

expressly that she was of the race of the Ptolemies of Egypt ; but further 


on he remarks — ' Sic cum Persis et Armenis principibus, vt illos urbani- 
tate et facetia superaret.' This may account for the confusion. 

3446. Boccaccio says (de Mul. Clar.) — ' Dicunt autem banc a pueritia 
sua spretis omnino muliebribus ojficiis, cum iam corpusculum eduxisset 
in robur, syluas & nemora incoluisse plurimum, & accinctam pharetra, 
ceruis caprisque cursu atque sagittis fuisse infestam. Inde cum in 
acriores deuenisset uires, ursus amplecti ausam, pardos, leonesque in- 
sequi, obuios expectare, capere & occidere, ac in praedam trahere.' 
This accounts for the word ojjice, and may shew how closely Chaucer 
has followed his original. 

3496. lafte iwt, forbore not ; see A. 492. 

3497. She was acquainted with Egyptian literature, and studied 
Greek under the philosopher Longinus, author of a celebrated treatise 
on 'The Sublime.' 

3502. housbonde. Her husband was Odenathus, or Odenatus, the 
ruler of Palmyra, upon whom the emperor Gallienus had bestowed the 
title of Augustus. He was murdered by some of his relations, and 
some have even insinuated that Zenobia consented to the crime. Most 
scribes spell the name Onedake, by metathesis for Odenake {Odenate), 
like the spelling Adriane for Ariadne. 

3507. doon heinflee, cause them (her and her husband) to flee. 

3510. Sapor I. reigned over Persia A. D. 240-273. He defeated the 
emperor Valerian, whom he kept in captivity for the rest of his life. 
After conquering Syria and taking Caesarea, he was defeated by Oden- 
atus and Zenobia, who founded a new empire at Palmyra. See Gibbon, 
Decline, &c., chap. x. 

3511. proces, succession of events, yf/, fell, befell. 

3512. title, pronounced nearly as title in French, the e being elided 
before /lad. 

3515. Peirark. Tyrwhitt suggests that perhaps Boccaccio's book 
had fallen into Chaucer^s hands under the name of Petrarch. We may, 
however, suppose that Chaucer had read the account in a borrowed 
book, and did not certainly know whether Petrarch or Boccaccio was 
the author. Instances of similar mistakes are common enough in Early 
English. Modern readers are apt to forget that, in the olden times, 
much information had to be carried in the memory, and there was 
seldom much facility for verification or for a second perusal of a story. 

3519. cruelly. The Harl. MS. has the poor reading trewely, mis- 
written for crewcly. 

3525. Claudius II., emperor of Rome, A. D. 268-270. He succeeded 
Gallienus, as Chaucer says, and was succeeded by Aurelian. 

3535. Boccaccio calls them Heremianus and Timolaus, so that Hcr- 
inanno (as in the iSISS.) should probably be Heremanno. Professor 
Robertson Smith tells me that the right names are Herennianus and 
Timoleon. The line cannot well be scanned as it stands. 

3550. char, chariot. Boccaccio describes this ' currum, quera sibi 
ex auro gemmisque praeciocissimum Zenobia fabricari fecerat.' 

LI. 3446-563.] THE MONKES TALE : ZENOBIA. 237 

3556. charged, heavily laden. She was so laden with chains of 
massive gold, and covered with pearls and gems, that she could scarcely 
support the weight ; so says Boccaccio. Gibbon says the same. 

3562. viironytc. I have no doubt this reading (as in Tyrwhitt) 
is correct. All the six MSS. in the Six-text agree in it. The old 
printed editions have lucre aiitrcmyte, a mere corruption of were a 
u\i\tremytc\ and the Harl. MS. has ivyntcrmytc, which I take to be 
an attempt to make sense of a part of the word, just as we have turned 
dcrevisse into cray-fish. What the word means, is another question ; it 
is perhaps the greatest ' crux ' in Chaucer. As the word occurs nowhere 
else, the solution I offer is a mere guess. I suppose it to be a coined 
word, formed on the Latin vitream j/iitram, expressing, literally, a glass 
head-dress, in complete contrast to a strong helmet. My reasons for 
supposing this are as follows. 

(1) With regard to mitra. In Low-Latin, its commonest meaning 
is a woman's head-dress. But it was especially and widely used as 
a term of mockery, both in Latin, Italian, Spanish, and French. The 
mitra was the cap which criminals were made to wear as a sign of 
degradation ; see Carpenter's Supp. to Ducange, s. v. Mitra ; Vocabu- 
lario degli Accad. della Crusca, s. v. Mttera\ and any large Spanish 
Diet. s. V. Mitra. Even Cotgrave has — *^ Mitre, mitred ; hooded with 
a miter, wearing a miter ; set on a pillory or scaffold, with a initer of 
paper on his head.' The chief difficulty in this derivation is the loss 
of the r, but Codefroy has a quotation (s. v. mite, 2), which would suit 
the sense— 'w//^.f de toile costonnees, et par dessus ung grand chappcl 
de fer ou de cuir bouilli.' 

(2) With regard to vitream. This may refer to a proverb, probably 
rather English than foreign, to which I have never yet seen a reference. 
But its existence is clear. To give a man * a glazen hood ' meant, in 
Old English, to mock, delade, cajole. It appears in Piers the Plow- 
man, B. XX. 171, where a story is told of a man who, fearing to die, 
consulted the physicians, and gave them large sums of money, for 
which they gave him in return ' a glasen houve,' i. e. a hood of glass, 
a thing that was no defence at all Still clearer is the allusion to the 
same proverb i?i Chaucer himself, in a passage explained by no previous 
editor, in Troil. and Cres. v. 469, where Fortune is said to have an 
intention of deluding Troilus ; or, as the poet says, 

' Fortune his howve entended bet to glase,' 

i. e. literally, Fortune intended to glaze his hoods\M\ better for him, i. e. 
to make a still greater fool of him. In the Aldine edition, howue is 
printed howen in this passage, but howue occurs elsewhere ; Tyrwhitt 
has hove, a common variation oi howue. If this note is unsatisfactory, 
I may yet claim to have explained in it at least one long-standing 
difficulty ; viz. this line in Troilus. Tyrwhitt long ago explained that, 
in Chaucer, the phrases to set a Juan's hood, and to set a jnan's cap, 
have a like meaning, viz. to delude him. Chaucer uses verre for glass 


in another passage of a similar character, viz. in Troil. and Cres. ii. 
867, where we read — 

* And forthy, who that hath an hcde of verre, 
Fro cast of stones war him in the werre.* 

.3564. a distaf. This is from Boccaccio's other account, in the De 
Casibus Virorum. ' Haec nuper imperatoribus admiranda, nunc uenit 
miseranda plebeis. Haec nunc galeata concionari militibus assueta, 
nunc uelata cogitur muliercularum audire fabellas. Haec nuper Orienti 
praesidens sceptra gestabat, nunc Romae subiacens, colum, sicut 
ceterae, baiulat.' Zenobia survived her disgrace for some years, living 
at Rome as a private person on a small estate which was granted to 
her, and which, says Trebellius Pollio, ' hodie Zenobia dicitur.' 

Peter, King of Spain. 

3565. See vol. iii. p. 429, for the order in which the parts of the Monk's 
Tale are arranged. I follow here the arrangement in the Harleian MS. 
Peter, king of Castile, born in 1334, is generally known as Pedro the 
Cruel. He reigned over Castile and Leon from 1350 to 1362, and his 
conduct was marked by numerous acts of unprincipled atrocity. After 
a destructive civil war, he fell into the hands of his brother, Don 
Enrique (Henry). A personal struggle took place between the brothers, 
in the course of which Enrique stabbed Pedro to the heart ; March 23, 
1369. See the ballad by Sir Walter Scott, entitled the Death of Don 
Pedro, in Lockhart's Spanish Ballads, commencing — 

' Henry and Don Pedro clasping 

Hold in straining arms each other ; 
Tugging hard and closely grasping, 

Brother proves his strength with brother.' 

It is remarkable that Pedro was very popular with his own party, 
despite his crimes, and Chaucer takes his part because our Black 
Prince fought on the side of Pedro against Enrique at the battle of 
Najera, April 3, 1367 ; and because John of Gaunt married Constance, 
daughter of Pedro, about Michaelmas, 1 371. 

3573. See the description of Du Gueschlin's arms as given below. 
The ' field ' was argent, and the black eagle appears as if caught by 
a rod covered with birdlime, because the bend dexter across the shield 
seems to restrain him from flying away. The first three lines of the 
stanza refer to Bertrand Du Gueschlin, who * brew,' i. e. contrived 
Pedro's murder, viz. by luring him to Enrique's tent. But the last three 
lines refer to another knight who, according to Chaucer, took a still 
more active part in the matter, being a worker in it. This second 
person was a certain Sir OHver Mauny, whose name Chaucer conceals 
under the synonym of luicked nest, standing for O. Fr. matt tit, where 


7nmc is O. Fr. for ;;/«/, bad or wicked, and ni is O. Fr. for nid, Lat. 
nidtis, a nest. Observe too, that Chaucer uses the word need^ not 
deed. There may be an excellent reason for this ; for, in the course of 
the struggle between the brothers, Enrique was at first thrown, * when 
(says Lockhart) one of Henry's followers, seizing Don Pedro by the 
leg, turned him over, and his master, thus at length gaining the upper 
hand, instantly stabbed the king to the heart, Froissart calls this 
man the Vicomte de Roquebetyn, and others the Bastard of Anisse.' 
I have no doubt that Chaucer means to tell us that the helper in 
Enrique's need was no other than Mauny. He goes on to say that 
this iMauny was not like Charles the Great's Oliver, an honourable 
peer, but an Oliver of Armorica, a man like Charles's Ganelon, the 
well-known traitor, of whom Chaucer elsewhere says (Book of the 
Duchess, 1. 1 121) — 

'Or the false Genelon, 

He that purchased the treson 

Of Rowland and of Olivere.' 
This passage has long been a puzzle, but was first cleared up in an 
excellent letter by Mr. Furnivall in Notes and Queries, which I here 
subjoin ; I may give myself the credit, however, of identifying * wicked 
nest ' with O. Fr. mau ni. 

' The first two lines [of the stanza] describe the arms of Bertrand da 
Guesclin, which were, a black double-headed eagle displayed on a silver 
shield, with a red band across the whole, from left to right [in heraldic 
language, a bend dexter, gules] — " the lymrod coloured as the glede" or 
live coal— as may be seen in Anselme's Histoire Genealogiqtiede France, 
and a MS. Genealogies de France in the British Museum. Next, if we 
turn to Mr. D. F. Jamison's excellent Life and Times of Bertrand du 
Guesclin, we not only find on its cover Bertrand's arms as above 
described, but also at vol. ii. pp. 92-4, an account of the plot and murder 
to which Chaucer alludes, and an identification of his traitorous 
or " Genylon " Oliver, with Sir Oliver de I^Iauny of Brittany (or 
Armorica), Bertrand's cousin [or, according to Froissart, cap. 245, his 

'After the battle of Monteil, on March 14, 1369, Pedro was besieged 
in the castle of Monteil near the borders of La Mancha, by his brother 
Enrique ; who was helped by Du Guesclin and many French knights. 
Finding escape impossible, Pedro sent Men Rodriguez secretly to Du 
Guesclin with an offer of many towns and 200,000 gold doubloons if 
he would desert Enrique and reinstate Pedro. Du Guesclin refused the 
offer, and " the next day related to his friends and kinsmen in the camp, 
and especially to his cousin. Sir Oliver de Mauny, what had taken 
place." He asked them if he should tell Enrique ; they all said yes : so 
he told the king. Thereupon Enrique promised Bertrand the same 
reward that Pedro had offered him, but asked him also to assure Men 
Rodriguez of Pedro's safety if he would come to his (Du Guesclin's) 
lodge. Relying on Bertrand's assurance, Pedro came to him on 


March 23 ; Enrique entered the lodge directly afterwards, and after 
a struggle, stabbed Pedro, and seized his kingdom. 

* We see then that Chaucer was justified in asserting that Du Guesclin 
and Sir Oliver Mauny **brew this cursednesse" ; and his assertion has 
some historical importance ; for as his patron and friend, John of 
Gaunt, married one of Pedro's daughters [named Constance] as his 
second wife [Michaelmas, 1371], Chaucer almost certainly had the 
account of Pedro's death from his daughter, or one of her attendants, 
and is thus a witness for the truth of the narrative of the Spanish 
chronicler Ayala, given above, against the French writers, Froissart, 
Cuvelier, &c., who make the Be'gue de Villaines the man who inveigled 
Pedro. This connexion of Chaucer with John of Gaunt and his second 
wife must excuse the poet in our eyes for calling so bad a king as Pedro 
the Cruel " worthy " and " the glorie of Spayne, whom Fortune heeld so 
hy in magestee.'' 

' In the Corpus MS. these knights are called in a side-note Bertheuw 
Claykyw (which was one of the many curious ways in which Du 
Guesclin's name was spelt) and 01yui?r Mawny ; in MS. Harl. 1758 
they are called Barthilmewe Claykeynne and Olyuer Mawyn ; and in 
MS. Lansdowne 851 they are called Betelmewe Claykyn and Oliuer 
Mawnye. Mauni or Mauny was a well-known Armorican or Breton 
family. Chaucer's epithet of "Genilon" for Oliver de Mauny is 
specially happy, because Genelon was the Breton knight who betrayed 
to their death the great Roland and the flower of Charlemagne's 
knights to the Moors at Roncesvalles. Charles's or Charlemagne's 
great paladin, Oliver, is too well known to need more than a bare 
mention.' — F. J. Furnivall, in Notes and Queries, 4th Series, viii. 449. 

Peter, King of Cyprus. 

3581. In a note to Chaucer's Prologue, A. 51, Tyrwhitt says — 
' Alexandria in Egypt was won, and immediately aftenvards abandoned, 
in 1365, by Pierre de Lusignan, king of Cyprus. The same Prince, soon 
after his accession to the throne in 1352, had taken Satalie, the antient 
Attalia; and in another expedition about 1367 he made himself master 
of the town of Layas in Armenia. Compare 11 Memoire sur les 
Ouvrages de Guillaume de Machaut, Acad, des Ins. tom. xx. pp. 426, 
432, 439 ; and Memoire sur la Vie de Philippe de Maizieres, tom. xvii. 
p. 493.' He was assassinated in 1369. Cf. note to A. 51. 

Barnabo of Lombardy. 

3589. ' Bemabo Visconti, duke of Milan, was deposed by his nephew 
and thrown into prison, where he died in 1385.' — Tyrwhitt. This date 
of Dec. 1 8, 1 385 is that of the latest circumstance incidentally referred to 
in the Canterbury Tales. Chaucer had been sent to treat with Visconti 

LI. 3581-640] THE MONKES TALE: UGOLINO. 241 

in 1378, so that he knew him personally. See Froissart, bk. ii. ch. 158 ; 
Engl. Cyclopaedia, s. v. Visconti ; Furnivall's Trial Forewords, p. 109. 
And see vol. i. p. xxxii. 

Ugolino of Pisa. 

3597. ' Chaucer himself has referred us to Dante for the original of 
this tragedy : see Inferno, canto xxxiii.' — Tyrwhitt. An account of 
Count Ugolino is given in a note to Gary's Dante, from A'illani, lib. vii. 
capp. 120-127. This account is different from Dante's, and represents 
him as very treacherous. He made himself master of Pisa in July 
1288, but in the following March was seized by the Pisans, who threw 
him, with his two sons, and two of his grandsons, into a prison, where 
they perished of hunger in a few days. Chaucer says three sons, the 
eldest being five years of age. Dante sa.ys four sons. 

3606. Roger; i.e. the Archbishop Ruggieri degli Ubaldini, who was 
Ugolino's enemy. 

3616. This line is imperfect at the caesura ; accent buf. Tyrwhitt 
actually turns lierdc into /icred, to make it dissyllabic ; but such an 
'emendation' is not legitimate. The Harl. MS. has — 'He herd it 
wel, but he saugh it nought'; where Mr. Jephson inserts ne before 
saugh without any comment. Perhaps read — he [ne] spak. 

'The hour drew near 
When they were wont to bring us food ; the mind 
Of each misgave him through his dream, and I 
Heard, at its outlet underneath, lock'd up 
The horrible tower : whence, tittering not a word, 
I look'd upon the visage of my sons. 
I wept not : so all stone I felt within. 
They wept : and one, my little Anselm, cried, 
" Thou lookest so ! Father, what ails thee ? " ' Sic. 

Caryl's Dante. 

3621. Dante does not mention the ages ; but he says that the son 

named Gaddo died on the fourth day, and the other three on the fifth and 

sixth days. Observe that Chaucer's tender lines, II. 3623-8, are /ns own. 

3624. Morsel breed, morsel of bread ; cf. barel ale for barrel of ale, 

B. 3083.— M. 

3636. ' I may lay the blame of all my woe upon thy false wheel.' 
Cf. B. 3860. 

3640. two ; there were now but two survivors, the youngest, accord- 
ing to Chaucer, being dead. 

' They, who thought 
I did it through desire of feeding, rose 
O' the sudden, and cried, " Father, we should grieve 
Far less, if thou wouldst eat of us : thou gavest 
These weeds of miserable flesh we wear. 
And do thou strip them off from us again." ' 

Car}''s Dante. 


3651. Datit; i.e. Dante Alighieri, the great poet of Italy, born in 
1265, died Sept. 14, 1321. Chaucer mentions him again in his House 
of Fame, book i., as the author of the Inferno, in the Prologue to 
the Legend of Good Women, 1. 360, and in the Wyf of Bathes Tale, 
D. 1 126. 


3655. Swetonius ; this refers to the Lives of the Twelve Caesars by 
Suetonius ; but it would be a mistake to suppose that Chaucer has 
followed his account very closely. Our poet seems to have had a habit 
of mentioning authorities whom he did not immediately follow, by which 
he seems to have meant no more than that they were good authorities 
upon the subject. Here, for instance, he merely means that we can 
find in Suetonius a good account of Nero, which will give us all minor 
details. But in reality he draws the story more immediately from other 
sources, especially from Boccaccio, De Casibus Virorum, lib. vii. cap. 4, 
from the Roman de la Rose, and from Boethius, de Cons. Philos. lib. ii. 
met. 6, and lib. iii. met. 4. The English Romaunt of the Rose does not 
contain the passage about Nero, but it is interesting to refer to Chaucer's 
translation of Boethius. Vincent of Beauvais has an account of Nero, 
in his Speculum Historiale, lib. ix. capp. I-7, in which he chiefly 
follows Suetonius. See also Orosius, lib. vii. 7, and Eutropius, lib. vii. 

3657. South; the MSS. have North, but it is fair to make the 
correction, as Chaucer certainly knew the sense of Septemtriojin, and 
the expression is merely borrowed from the Roman de la Rose, 
ed. Meon, I. 6271, where we read, 

' Cis desloiaus, que ge ci di ; 
Et d'Orient et de Midi, 
D'Occident, de Septentrion 
Tint il la juridicion.' 

And, in his Boethius, after saying that Nero ruled from East to West, 
he adds — 'And eke J)is Nero gouernede by Ceptre alle ))e peoples J)at 
ben vndir \t colde sterres |)at hy^ten J)e seuene triones ; ))is is to seyn, 
he gouernede alle ])e poeples ))at ben vndir J)e parties of |)e nor))e. And 
eke Nero gouerned alle \& poeples ))at \& violent wynde Nothus 
scorchi]>, and bakij) ))e brennynge sandes by his drie hete ; )5at is to 
seyne, alle ))e poeples in ))e soupe' \ ed. Morris, p. 55 (cf. vol. ii. p. 45). 

3663. From Suetonius ; cf. Lounsbury, Studies in Chaucer, ii. 285. 

3665. This is from Suetonius, who says — ' Piscatus est rete aurato, 
purpura coccoque funibus nexis'; cap. xxx. So also Orosius, vii. 7; 
Eutropius, vii. 9. 

3669. This passage follows Boethius, bk. ii. met. 6, very closely, as 
is evident by comparing it with Chaucer's translation (see vol. ii. p. 44). 
' He leet brenne the citee of Rome, and made sleen the senatoures. 
And he, cruel, whylom slew his brother. And he was maked 


moist with the blood of his moder ; that is to seyn, he leet sleen and 
slitten the body of his moder, to seen wher he was conceived ; and he 
loked on every halve upon her colde dede body ; ne no tere ne wette 
his face ; but he was so hard-herted that he mighte ben domesman, or 
luge, of hir dede beautee. . . . Alias, it is a grevous fortune, as ofte as 
wikked swerd is ioigned to cruel venim ; that is to seyn, venimous 
crueltee to lordshippe.' Thus Chaucer himself explains dcwies/nan 
(1. 3680) by luge, i.e. judge. In the same line ded-e is dissyllabic. 

3685. a maister; i.e. Seneca, mentioned below by name. In the 
year 65, Nero, wishing to be rid of his old master, sent him an order 
to destroy himself. Seneca opened a vein, but the blood would not flow 
freely ; whereupon, toexpedite its flow, he entered into a warm bath, and 
thence was taken into a vapour stove, where he was suffocated. 'Nero 
constreynede Senek, his familier and his mayster, to chesen on what 
deeth he wolde deyen ' ; Chaucer's Boethius, lib. iii. pr. 5. 34 (vol. ii. 63). 

3G92. * It was long before tyranny or any other vice durst attack 
him ' ; literally, ' durst let dogs loose against him.' To uncouple is to 
release dogs from the leash that fastened them together ; see P. PI. B. 
pr. 206. Compare — • 

' At the uncoupling of his houndes.' 

Book of the Duchesse, 1. 377. 
'The laund on which they fought, th' appointed place 
In which th' uncoupled hounds began the chace.' 

Dryden ; Palamon and Arcite, bk. ii. 1. 845. 

3720. 'Where he expected to find some who would aid him.' 
Suetonius says — ' ipse cum paucis hospitia singulorum adiit. Verum 
clausis omnium foribus, respondente nuUo, in cubiculum rediit,' &c. ; 
cap. xlvii. He afterwards escaped to the villa of his freedman Phaon, 
four miles from Rome, where he at length gave himself a mortal wound 
in the extremity of his despair. Cf. Rom. de la Rose, 6459-76. 

3736. girden of, to strike off; cf. ' gurdeth of gyles hed,' P. PI. B. ii. 
201. h. gird is also a sharp striking taunt or quip. — M. 


3746. Oloferne. The story of Holofernes is to be found in the 
apocryphal book of Judith. 

3750. For lestfige, for fear of losing, lest men should lose. 

3752. ' He had decreed to destroy all the gods of the land, that all 
nations should worship Nabuchodonosor only,' &c. ; Judith, iii. 8. 

3756. Eliachim. Tyrwhitt remarks that the name of the high priest 
was Joacim ; Judith, iv. 6. But this is merely the form of the name in 
our EngUsh version. The Vulgate version has the equivalent form 
Eliachim ; cf. 2 Chron. xxxvi. 4. 

3761. tipright, i. e. on his back, with his face upwards. See Knightes 
Tale, 1. 1 1 50 (A. 2008), and the note to A. 4194. 

R 2 



3765. Antiochus Epiphanes, King of Syria (B.C. 175-164). Para- 
phrased from 2 Maccabees, ix. 7, 28, 10, 8, 7, 3-7, 9-12, 28. 


3821. There is a whole cycle of Alexander romances, in Latin, 
French, and English, so that his story is common enough. There is 
a good life of him by Plutarch, but in Chaucer's time the principal 
authority for an account of him was Quintus Curtius. See Ten Brink, 
Hist. Eng. Lit., bk. ii. sect. 8. 

3826. ' They were glad to send to him (to sue) for peace.' 

3843. wri/e, should write, pt. subj. ; hence the change of vowel from 
indie, luroot. — M. The / is short. 

3845. 'So Alexander reigned twelve years, and then died'; I Mac. 
i. 7. Machabee, i.e. the first book of the Maccabees. 

3850. Quintus Curtius says that Alexander was poisoned by Antipa- 
ter ; and this account is adopted in the romances. Cf. Barbour's Bruce, 

i- 533- 

3851. 'Fortune hath turned thy six (the highest and most fortunate 
throw at dice) into an nee (the lowest).' Cf. note to B. 124. 

38G0. * Which two (fortune and poison) I accuse of all this woe.' 

Julius Caesar. 

8862. For humble ^^^Tyrwhitt, Wright, and Bell print huvibhhede, 
as in some MSS. But this word is an objectionable hybrid compound, 
and I think it remains to be shewn that the word belongs to our 
language. In the Knightes Tale, Chaucer has hnmblesse, and in the 
Persones Tale, Jniniilitee. Until better authority for /lumblehede can 
be adduced, I am content with the reading of the four best MSS., 
including the Harleian, which Wright silently alters. 

3863. Julius. For this story Chaucer refers us below to Lucan, 
Suetonius, and Valerius ; see note to 1. 3909. There is also an interest- 
ing life of him by Plutarch. Boccaccio mentions him but incidentally. 

3866. tributdrie ; observe the rime with aduersdrie. Fortune in 
1. 3868 is a trisyllable; so also in 1. 3876. 

3870. 'Against Pompey, thy father-in-law.' Rather, 'son-in-law*; 
for Caesar gave Pompey his daughter Julia in marriage. 

3875. puttest ; to be read z.%puifst\ and thorient as in 1. 3883. 

3878. Pompeius. Boccaccio gives his life at length, as an example 
of misfortune ; De Casibus Virorum, lib. vi. cap. 9. He was killed 
Sept. 29, B. c. 48, soon after the battle of Pharsalia in Thessaly (1. 3869). 

3881. ]mn, for himself; but in the next line it means 'to him.' — M. 

3885. Chaucer refers to this triumph in the Man of Lawes Tale, 
B. 400 ; but see the note. Cf. Shak. Henry V, v. prol. 28. 


3887. Chaucer is not alone in making Brutus and Cassius into one 
person ; see note to 1. 3892. 

389L cast^ contrived, appointed; pp., after hath. 

3892. boydekins, lit. bodkins, but with the signification of daggers. 
It is meant to translate the hsit.pugio, a poniard. In Barbour's Bruce, 
i. 545, Caesar is said to have been slain with a weapon which in one 
edition is called z. piinsoun, in another a botkin, and in the Edinburgh 
MS. a pusounc, perhaps an error for piaisoune, since Halliwell's 
Dictionary gives the form piincJuon. Hamlet uses bodkin for a dagger ; 
Act iii. sc. I. 1. "j^i. In the margin of Stowe's Chronicle, ed. 1614, it is 
said that Caesar was slain with bodkins ; Nares' Glossarj'. Nares also 
quotes — 'The chief woorker of this murder was Brutus Cassius, with 260 
of the senate, all having bodkins in their sleeves'; Serp. of Division, 
prefixed to Gorboduc, 1590. 

3906. lay on deying, lay a-dying. In 1. 3907, ^cr^/= mortally 

3909. recomende, commit. He means that he commits the full telling 
of the storj' to Lucan, &c. In other words, he refers the reader to 
those authors. Cf. Lounsbury, Studies in Chaucer, ii. 254, 274. 

Lucan (born A. D. 39, died A. D. 65 ) was the author of the Pharsalia, an 
incomplete poem in ten books, narrating the struggle between Pompey 
and Caesar. There is an English translation of it by Rowe. 

Suetonius Tranquillus (born about A. D. 70) wrote several works, the 
principal of which is The Lives of the Twelve Caesars. 

Valerius. There were two authors of this name, ( i j Valerius Flaccus, 
author of a poem on the Argonautic expedition, and (2) Valerius Maxi- 
mus, author of De Factis Dictisque Memorabilibus Libri ix. Mr. Jeph- 
son says that Valerius Flaccus is meant here, 1 know not why. Surely 
the reference is to Valerius Maximus, who at least tells some anecdotes 
of Caesar ; lib. iv. c. 5 ; lib. vii. cap. 6. 

3911. loord and ende, beginning and end ; a substitution for the 
older formula ord and ejide. Tyrwhitt notes that the suggested 
emendation oi ord for word wa.s proposed by Dr. Hickes, in his Anglo- 
Saxon Grammar, p. 70. Hickes would make the same emendation in 
Troil. and Cres. v. 1669 ; 

* And of this broche he tolde him ord and ende,' 

where the editions have word. He also cites the expression ord and 
ende from Casdmon ; see Thorpe's edition, p. 225, 1. 30. We also find 
from oj-de 0^ ende— from beginning to end, in the poem of Elene 
(Vercelli MS.), ed. Grein, 1. 590. O^'de and ende occurs also at a later 
period, in the Ormulum, 1. 6775 ; and still later, in Floriz and Blanche- 
flur, 1. 47, ed. Lumby, in the phrase, 

* Ord and ende he haf) him told 
Hu blauncheflur was ))arinne isold.' 

Tyrwhitt argues that the true spelling of the phrase had already become 


corrupted in Chaucer's time, and such seems to have been the fact, as 
all the MSS. have word. See Zupitza's note to Guy of Warwick, 1. 7927, 
where more examples are given ; andcf my note to Troil. ii. 1495. Ord 
ividende explains our modern odds and ends ; see Garnett's Essays, p. yj. 
Moreover, it is not uncommon to find a lu prefixed to a word where it is 
not required etymologically, especially before the vowel o. The examples 
wocks, oaks, won^ one, ivodur, other, -wostus, oast-house, woi/i, oath, 
wo/s, oats, wolde, old, are all given in Halliwell's Prov. Dictionary. 


3917. Cresus ; king of Lydia, 1;. c. 560-546, defeated by Cyrus at 
Sardis. Cyrus spared his life, and Croesus actually survived his bene- 
factor. Chaucer, however, brings him to an untimely end. The story 
of Croesus is in Boccaccio, De Casibus Virorum, lib. iii. cap. 20. See 
also Herodotus, lib. i ; Plutarch's life of Solon, &c. But Boccaccio 
represents Croesus as sursiving his disgraces. Tyrwhitt says that the 
story seems to have been taken from the Roman de la Rose, 11. 6312- 
6571 fed. Me'on) ; where the English Romaunt of the Rose is defective. 
In Chaucer's translation of Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 2, see vol. ii. p. 28, wc 
find this sentence : 'Wistest thou not how Cresus, the king of 
Lydiens, of whiche king Cyrus was ful sore agast a litel biforn, that this 
rewliche {pitiable] Cresus was caught of [^y] Cyrus, and lad to the fyr to 
ben brent ; but that a rayn descendede doun fro hevene, that rescowede 
him? ' In the House of Fame, bk. i. 11. 104-6, we have an allusion to 
the * avision ' [z'ision, dream] of 

' Cresus, that was king of Lyde, 
That high upon a gebet dyde.' 

See also Nonne Pr. Ta. 1. 318 (B. 4328). The tragic version of the 
fate of Croesus is given by Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum Historiale, 
iii. 17; and I give an extract, as it seems to be the account which 
is followed in the Roman de la Rose. It must be premised that 
Vincent makes Croesus to have been taken prisoner by Cyrus three 

'Alii historiographi narrant, quod in secunda captione, iussit eum 
Cyrus rogo superponi et assari, et subito tanta pluuia facta est, vt 
eius immensitate ignis extingueretur, vnde occasionem repperit eua- 
dendi. Cumque postea hoc sibi prospere euenisse gloriaretur, et 
opum copia nimium se iactaret, dictum est ei a Solone quodam sapien- 
tissimo, non dcbere quemquam in diuitiis et prosperitate gloriari. 
Eadem nocte uidit insomnis quod Jupiter eum aqua perfunderet, et sol 
extergeret. Quod cum filiae suae mane indicasset, ilia (\t res se habe- 
bat) prudenter absoluit, dicens : quod cruci esset afifigendus et aqua 
perfundendus et sole siccandus. Ouod itademum contigit, nam postea 
a Cyro crucifixus est.' Compare the few following lines from the 
Roman de la Rose, with 11. 3917-22, 3934-8, 394 1, and 1. 3948 : — 


' Qui refu roi de toute Lyde ; 
Puis li mist-l'en ou col la bride, 
Et fu por ardre au feu livrds, 
Quant par pluie fu delivres, 
Qui le grant feu fist tout estraindre : . . . 
Jupiter, ce dist, le lavoit, 
Et Phebus la toaille avoit, 
Et se penoit de I'essuier . . 
Bien le dist Phanie sa fille, 
Qui tant estoit saige et soutille . . . 
L'arbre par le gibet vous glose,' &c. 

3951. The passage here following is repeated from the Menkes Pro- 
logue, and copied, as has been said, from Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 2. It is 
to be particularly noted that the passage quoted from Boethius in the 
note to B. 3917 almost immediately precedes the passage quoted in the 
note to B. 3163. 

3956. See note to B. 3972 below. 

The Nonne Prestes Prologue. 

3957. the knight. See the description of him, Prol. A. 43. 

3961. for me, for myself, for my part. Cp. the phrase ' as for 
me.'— M. 

3970. ' By the bell of Saint Paul's church (in London).' 

8972. The host alludes to the concluding lines of the Menkes Tale, 
1. 3956, then repeats the words 710 remedie from 1. 3183, and cites the 
word biwaillc from 1. 3952. Compare all these passages. 

3982. Piers. We must suppose that the host had by this time learnt 
the monk's name. In B. 3120 above, he did not know it. 

3984. 'Were it not for the ringing of your bells' ; lit. were there not 
a clinking of your bells (all the while). * Anciently no person seems 
to have been gallantly equipped on horseback, unless the horse's bridle 
or some other part of the furniture was stuck full of small bells. Vincent 
of Beauvais, who wrote about 1264, censures this piece of pride in the 
knights-templars ; Hist. Spec. lib. xxx. c. 85' ; &c.— Warton, Hist. Eng. 
Poetry (ed. Hazlitt), ii. 160 ; i. 264. See also note to Prol. A. 170. 

3990. ' Ubi auditus non est, non effundas sermonem'; Ecclus.xxxii. 6. 
(Vulgate) ; the A. V. is different. See above, B. 2237. The common 
proverb, * Keep your breath to cool your broth,' nearly e.xpresses 
what Chaucer here intends. 

3993. substance is explained by Tyrwhitt to mean 'the material 
part of a thing.' Chaucer's meaning seems not very different from 
Shakespeare's in Love's La. Lost, v. 2. 871 — 

* A jest's prosperity lies in the ear 
Of him that hears it ; never in the tongue 
Of him that makes it.' 


3995. ' For the propriety of this remark, see note to Proh A. 166'; 

4000. Sir ; ' The title of 5/rwas usually given, by courtesy, to priests, 
both secular and regular'; Tyrwhitt. Tyrwhitt also remarks that, ' in 
the principal modern languages, John, or its equivalent, is a name of 
contempt or at least of slight. So the Italians use Giantn, from whence 
Zani [Eng. ::ony^ ; the Spaniards y«i;;/, as Bobo Juan, a foolish John ; 
the French yiffl«, with various additions.' The reason (which Tyrwhitt 
failed to see) is simply iha.i John is one of the commonest of common 
names. For example, twenty-three popes took that name ; and cf. our 
phrase y(?//« Bull, which answers to the Yrcnchjeafi Crapaud, and the 
Russian Ivan Ivanovitch, ' the embodiment of the peculiarities of the 
Russian people ' ; Wheeler's Noted Names of Fiction. Ivan Ivanovitch 
would be John Johnson in English and Evan Evans in Welsh. Hence 
sir John became the usual contemptuous name for a priest ; see abun- 
dant examples in the Index to the Parker Society's publications. 

4004. serve has two syllables ; hence re/;, in the Harl, IMS., is per- 
haps better than rek/ce of the other MSS. A bene, the value of a bean ; 
in the INlilleres Tale a kers (i.e. a blade of grass) occurs in a similar 
manner (A. 3756) ; which has been corrupted into ' not caring a cuise ' ! 

4006. Ye, yea, is a mild form of assent ; yis is a stronger form, 
generally followed, as here, by some form of asseveration. See note 
to B. 1900 above. 

4008. attamed, commenced, begun. The Lat. a/taniifiare and Low 
Lat. intaminare are equivalent to contaniinare, to contaminate, soil, 
spoil. From Low Lat. intandnare comes F. eniuDier, to cut into, attack, 
enter upon, begin. From attaminare comes the M. E. attamc or 
atame, with a similar sense. The metaphor is taken from the notion 
of cutting into a joint of meat or of broaching or opening a cask. This 
is well shewn by the use of the word in P. Plowman, B. xvii. 68, where 
it is said of the Good Samaritan in the parable that he 'breyde to his 
boteles, and bothe he aianiede,'' i.e. he went hastily to his bottles, and 
broached or opened them both. So here, the priest broached, opened, 
or began his tale. 

The Nonne Preestes Tale. 

We may compare Dryden's modernised version of this tale, entitled 
'The Cock and the Fox.' See further in vol. iii. pp. 431-3. 

401 L stape. Lansd. MS. reads stoupe, as if it signified bent, stooped; 
but stoop is a weak verb. Stape or stope is the past participle of 
the strong verb stafien, to step, advance. Stape in a^^= advanced in 
years. Roger Ascham has almost the same phrase : * And [Varro] 
beyng depe stept in age, by negligence some wordes do scape and fall 
from him in those bookes as be not worth the taking up,' &.C. — The 
Schoolmaster, ed. Mayor, p. 1S9; ed. Arber, p. 152. 

LI. 3995-4044-] THE NONNE PREESTES TALE. 249 

4018-9. by hotisbotidrye, by economy ; fond hir-self, ' found herself,' 
provided for herself. 

4022. Fill sooty was hir hour, aiideek hir halle. The widow's house 
consisted of only two apartments, designated by the terms bower and 
hall. Whilst the widow and her ' daughters two ' slept in the bower, 
Chanticleer and his seven wives roosted on a perch in the hall, and the 
swine disposed themselves on the floor. The smoke of the fire had 
to find its way through the crevices of the roof. See Our English 
Home, pp. 139, 140. Cf. Virgil, Eel. vii. 50 — ' assidua postes fuligine 
nigri.' Also — 

' At his beds feete feeden his stalled teme, 
His swine beneath, his pullen ore the beamed 

Hall's Satires, bk. v. sat. I ; v. I. p. 56, ed. 1599. 

4025. No deyntee (Elles. &c.) ; Noon deyntcth (Harl.). 

4029. hertes stiffisauncc, a satisfied or contented mind, literally heart's 
satisfaction. Cf. our phrase * to your heart's content.' 

4032. wyn . . . lu/iyt nor reed. The white line was sometimes 
called 'the wine of Osey' (Alsace) ; the red wine of Gascony, some- 
times called ' Mountrose,' was deemed a liquor for a lord. See Our 
English Home, p. %■}, ; Piers PI. prol. 1. 228. 

4035. Stynd bacoun, singed or broiled bacon. rt« ey or t-weye, an 
egg or two. 

4036. deye. The data (from the I eel. deigja) is mentioned in 
Domesday among assistants in husbandry ; and the term is again 
found in 2nd Stat. 25 Edward HI (a. D. 1351). In Stat. 2,7 Edward 
HI (a. d. 1363), the deye is mentioned among others of a certain rank, 
not having goods or chattels of 405-. value. The deye was usually 
a female, whose duty was to make butter and cheese, attend to the calves 
and poultry, and other odds and ends of the farm. The dairy (in some 
parts of England, as in Shropshire, called a dey-how^c) was the depart- 
ment assigned to her. See Prompt. Parv., p. 116. 

4039. In Caxton's translation of Reynard the Fox, the cock's name 
is CJiantccleer. In the original, it is Canticleer; from his clear voice 
in singing. In the same, Reynard's second son is Rosseel] see 
1. 4524. 

4041. 7;/6';7^r, sweeter, pleasanter. In Todd's Illustrations of Chaucer, 
p. 284, there is a long passage illustrative of niery in the sense of 
'pleasant.' Cf. 1. 4156. orgon is put for orgons or organs. It is 
plain from g07t in the next line, that Chaucer meant to use this 
word as a plural from the Lat. organa. Organ was used until lately 
only in the plural, like bellows, gallows, &c. * Which is either 
sung or said or on the 6'r^rt//j played.' — Becon's Acts of Christ, p. 534. 
It was sometimes called a pair of organs. See note to P. Plowman, 
C. xxi. 7. 

4044. Cf. Pari, of Foules, 350 :— 

' The cok, that orloge is of thorpes lyte.' 


Orloge (of an abbey) occurs in Religious Pieces, ed. Perry, p. 56 ; 
and see Stratmann. 

4045. ' The cock knew each ascension of the equinoctial, and crew 
at each ; that is, he crew every hour, as 15° of the equinoctial make an 
hour. Chaucer adds [1. 4044] that he knew the hour better than the 
abbey-clock. This tells us, clearly, that we are to reckon clock-hours, 
and not the unequal hours of the solar or ' artificial ' day. Hence the 
prime, mentioned in 1. 4387, was at a clock-hour, at 6, 7, 8, or 9, 
suppose. The day meant is May 3, because the sun [1. 4384] had 
passed the 21st degree of Taurus (see fig. i of Astrolabe). . . . The date, 
May 3, is playfully denoted by saying [1. 4379] that March was com- 
plete, and also (since March beganj thirty-two days more had passed. 
The words " since March began " are parenthetical ; and we are, in 
fact, told that the whole of March, the whole of April, and two days of 
May were done with. March was then considered the first month in 
the year, though the year began with the 25th, not with the 1st ; and 
Chaucer alludes to the idea that the Creation itself took place in 
March. The day, then, was Jvlay 3, with the sun past 21 degrees of 
Taurus. The hour must be had from the sun's altitude, rightly said 
(1. 4389) to be Fourty degrees and mm. I use a globe, and find that the 
sun would attain the altitude 41° nearly at 9 o'clock. It follows that 
prime in 1. 4387 signifies the end of the first quarter of the day, reckon- 
from 6 A. M. to 6 P. M.'— Skeat's Astrolabe, (E. E. T. S.), p. Ixi. This 
rough test, by means of a globe, is perhaps sufficient ; but Mr. Brae 
proved it to be right by calculation. Taking the sun's altitude at 
4li°, he 'had the satisfaction to find a resulting hour, for prime, of g 
o'clock A. IM. al/nost to the minute.' It is interesting to find that Thynne 
explains this passage very well in his Animadversions on Speght's 
Chaucer ; ed. Furnivall, p. 62, note i. 

The notion that the Creation took place on the 18th of March is 
alluded to in the Hexameron of St. Basil (see the A. S. version, ed. 
Norman, p. 8, note/), and in /Elfric's Homilies, ed. Thorpe, i. 100. 

4047. Fifteen degrees of the equinoctial = an exact hour. See note 
to 1. 4045 above. Skelton imitates this passage in his Phillyp Sparowe, 
1. 495. 

4050. And batailed. Lansd. j\IS. reads Enbaieled^ indented like 
a battlement, embattled. Batailed has the same sense. 

4051. as the leet, like the jet. Beads used for the repetition of 
prayers were frequently formed oijet. See note to Prol. A. 159. 

4060. damoysele Pertelote. Cf. our ' Dame Partlet.' 

* I'll be as faithful to thee 
As Chaunticleer to Madame Partelot.' 

The Ancient Drama, iii. p. 158. 

In Le Roman de Renart, the hen is called Piute or Pintain. 

4064. in hold \ in possession. Cf. 'He hath my heart in holde'' \ 
Greene's George a Greene, ed. Dyce, p. 256. 


4065. loken in every lith, locked in every limb. 

4069. my lief is faren in londe, my beloved is gone away. Probably 
the refrain of a popular song of the time. 

4079. her/e dere. This expression corresponds to 'dear heart,' or 
'deary heart,' which still survives in some parts of the country. 

4083. take it nat agricf—take it not in grief, i. e. take it not amiss, 
be not offended. 

4084. me mette, I dreamed ; literally it dreamed to me. 

4086. my sTvevene recche (or rede) aright, bring my dream to a good 
issue ; literally ' interpret my dream favourably.' 

4090. Was lyk. The relative that is often omitted by Chaucer 
before a relative clause, as, again, in 1. 4365. 

4098. Avoy (Elles.) ; Away (Harl.). From O. F. avoi, interj. fie I 
It occurs in Le Roman de la Rose, 7284, 16634. 

4113. See the Chapter on Dreams in Brand's Pop. Antiquities, 

4114. fume, the effects arising from gluttony and drunkenness. 
'Anxious black melancholy/z/'w^i'.' — Burton's Anat. of Mel. p. 438, ed. 
1845. ' ^ vapours arising out of the stomach,' especially those caused 
by gluttony and drunkenness. ' For when the head is heated it 
scorcheth the blood, and from thence proceed melancholy fumes that 
trouble the mind.' — Ibid. p. 269. 

4118. rede colera. , . red cholera caused by too much bile and blood 
(sometimes called red htnnour). Burton speaks of a kind of melan- 
choly of which the signs are these— ' the veins of their eyes red, as 
well as their faces.' The following quotation explains the matter. 
' Ther be foure humours, Bloud, Fleame, Cholar, and Melancholy. . . . 
First, working heate turneth what is colde and moyst into the kind of 
Fleme, and then what is hot and moyst, into the kinde of Bloud ; and 
then what is hot and dr^'e into the kinde of Cholera ; and then what 
is colde and drye into the kinde of Melancholia. ... By meddling of 
other humours, Bloud chaungeth kinde and colour : for by meddling of 
Cholar, it seemeth red, and by Melancholy it seemeth black, and by 
Fleame it seemeth watrie, and fomie.' — Batman upon Bartholome, 
lib. iv. c. 6. So also — ' in bloud it needeth that there be red Cholera''', 
lib. iv. c. 10; &c. 

The following explains the belief as to dreams caused by cholera. 
Men in which red Cholera is excesssive ' dreame of fire, and of lyght- 
ening, and of dreadful burning of the ajTe ' ; Batman upon Bartholome, 
lib. iv. c. 10. Those in which Melancholia is excessive dream * dred- 
full darke dreames, and very ill to see'; id. c. li. And again: 'He 
that is Sanguine hath glad and liking dreames, the melancholious 
dremeth of sorrow, the Cholarike, oifry things, and the Flematike, of 
Raine, Snow,' &c. ; id. lib. vi. c. 27. 

4123. the humour ofmalencolye. ' The name (melancholy) is imposed 
from the matter, and disease denominated from the material cause, as 
Bruel observes, ixikav^okla quasi \iiKaiva-)^6\t], from black choler.' 
Fracastorius, in his second book of Intellect, calls those melancholy 


' whom abundance of that same depraved humour of black choler hath 
so misaffected, that they become mad thence, and dote in most things 
or in all, belonging to election, will, or other manifest operations of the 
understanding.' — Eruton's Anat. of Melancholy, p. io8, ed. 1805. 
4128. 'That cause many a man in sleep to be very distressed.' 

4130. Catoun. Dionysius Cato, de Moribus, I. ii. dist. 32 : somnia 
jte cures. ' I observe by the way, that this distich is quoted by John 
of Salisbury, Polycrat. 1. ii. c. 16, as a precept 7'iri sapicntis. In an- 
other place, I. vii. c. 9, he introduces his quotation of the first verse of 
dist. 20 (1. iii.) in this manner: — '■'■Ait vel Cato vel alius, nam autor 
incertus est."' — Tyrwhitt. Cf. note to G. 688. 

4131. do 110 for s ^y"=take no notice of, pay no heed to. Skelton, 
i. 118, has 'makyth so lytyll fors,' i.e. cares so little for. 

4153. ' Wormwood, centaury, pennyroyal, are likewise magnified and 
much prescribed, especially in hypochondrian melancholy, daily to be 
used, sod in whey. And because the spleen and blood are often mis- 
affected in melancholy, I may not omit endive, succory, dandelion, 
fumitory, &c., which cleanse the blood.' — Burton's Anat. of Mel. pp. 
432, 433. See also p. 43S, ed. 1845. * Centauria abateth wombe-ache, 
and cleereth sight, and vnstoppeth the splene and the reines '; Batman 
upon Bartholom5, lib. xvii. c. 47. ' Fumus terre [fumitory] cleanseth 
and purgeth Melancholia, fleme, and cholera ' ; id. lib. xvii. c. 69. ' Medi- 
cinal herbs were grown in every garden, and were dried or made into 
decoctions, and kept for use'; Wright, Domestic ]\Ianners, p. 279. 

4154. ellebor. Two kinds of hellebore are mentioned by old writers ; 
* white hellebore, called sneezing powder, a strong purger upward ' 
(Burton's Anat. of Mel. pt. 2. § 4. m. 2. subsec. i.), and ' black hellebore, 
that most renowned plant, and famous purger of melancholy.' — Ibid, 
subsec. 2. 

4155. catapuce, caper-spurge. Euphorbia Lathyris. gaytres (or 
gaytrys) beryis, probably the berries of the buck-thorn, Rhamnus 
catharticus ; which (according to Rietz) is still called, in Swedish 
dialects, the getbdrs-trii (goat-berries tree) or getappel (goat-apple). 
I take gaytre to stand for gayt-tre, i. e. goat-tree ; a Northern form, 
from Icel. geit (gen. geitar), a goat. The A.S. gdte-treow, goat-tree, is 
probably the same tree, though the prov. Eng. gaiter-tree, gatteti-tree, 
or gatteridge-tree is usually applied to the Co7-nus sanguinea or cornel- 
tree, the fruits of which 'are sometimes mistaken for those of the buck- 
thorn, but do not possess the active properties of that plant '; Eng. 
Cyclop., s. V. Cornus. The context shews that the buck-thorn is meant. 
Langham says of the buck-thorn, that ' the beries do purge downwards 
mightily flegme and choller'; Garden of Health, 1633, p. 99 (New E. 
Diet., s. V. Buckthorti). This is why Chanticleer was recommended 
to eat them. 

4156. erbe yve, herb ive or herb ivy, usually identified with the 
ground-pine, Ajuga chamcepitys. inery, pleasant, used ironically ; as 
the leaves are extremely nauseous. 


4160. gi'Mint mercy, great thanks ; this in later authors is corrupted 
into gramjitercy or grmnercy. 

4166. so viflte I t/iee, as I may thrive (or prosper). Mote=K. S. 
viot-e, first p. s. pr. subj. 

4174. Oon of the gretteste atictotirs. 'Cicero, De Divin. 1. i. c. 27, 
relates this and the following story, but in a different order, and with 
so many other differences, that one might be led to suspect that he was 
here quoted at second-hand, if it were not usual with Chaucer, in these 
stories of familiar life, to throw in a number of natural circumstances, 
not to be found in his original authors.' — Tyrwhitt. Warton thinks 
that Chaucer took it rather from Valerius Maximus, who has the same 
story ; i. 7. He has, however, overlooked the statement in 1. 4254, 
which decides for Cicero. I here quote the whole of the former story, 
as given by Valerius. 'Duo familiares Arcades iter una facientes, 
Megaram venerunt ; quorum alter ad hospitem se contulit, alter in 
tabernam meritoriam devertit. Is, qui in hospitio venit, vidit in somnis 
comitem suam orantem, ut sibi cauponis insidiis circumvento sub- 
veniret : posse enim celeri ejus accursu se imminenti periculosubtrahi. 
Quo viso excitatus, prosiluit, tabernamque, in qua is diversabatur, 
petere conatus est. Pestifero deinde fato ejus humanissimum propo- 
situm tanquam supervacuum damnavit, et lectum ac somnum repetiit. 
Tunc idem ei saucius oblatus obsecravit, ut qui auxilium vitae suae ferre 
neglexisset, neci saltem ultionem non negaret. Corpus enim suum \ 
caupone trucidatum, tum maxime plaustro ad portam ferri stercore 
coopertum. Tam constantibus familiaris precibus compulsus, protinus 
ad portam cucurrit, et plaustrum, quod in quiete demonstratum 
erat, comprehendit, cauponemque ad capitale supplicium perduxit.' 
Valerii Maximi, lib. i. c. 7 (De Somniis). Cf. Cicero, De Divinatione, 
i. 27. 

4194. axes ; written oxe in HI. Cp. Ln; where oxe corresponds to 
the older English gen. oxaii, of an ox — oxe standing for oxen (as in 
Oxenford, see note on 1. 285 of Prologue). Thus axes and oxe are 

4200. took of this fio keep, took no heed to this, paid no attention to it. 

4211. sooih to sayn, to say (tell) the truth. 

4232. gi^pingc. The phrase g(^ping upright occurs elsewhere (see 
Knightes Tale, A. 2008), and signifies lying flat on the back with the 
mouth open. Cf. ' Dede he sate uprighte,' i.e. he lay on his back dead. 
The Sowdone of Babyloyne, 1. 530. 

4235. Harrow, a cry of distress ; a cry for help. ' Harrow! alas ! I 
swelt here as I go.' — The Ordinary ; see vol. iii. p. 150, of the Ancient 
Drama. See F, Jiaro in Godefroy and Littre ; and note to A. 3286. 

4237. outsterie (Elles., &c.) ; vpsterte (Hn., Harl.) 

4242. A common proverb. Skelton, ed. Dyce, i. 50, has ' I drede 
mordre wolde come cute.' 

4274. A?id preyde him his 7' i age for to kite, And prayed him to 
abandon his journey. 


4275, to abyde, to stay where he was. 

4279. my i/iiftges, my business-matters. 

4300. ' Kenelm succeeded his father Kenulph on the throne of the 
Mercians in 821 [Haydn, Book of Dates, says 819] at the age of seven 
years, and was murdered by order of his aunt, Quenedreda. He was 
subsequently made a saint, and his legend will be found in Capgrave, 
or in the Golden Legend.' — Wright. 

St. Kenelm's day is Dec. 13. Alban Butler, in his Lives of the 
Saints, says :— [Kenulph] 'dying in 819, left his son Kenelm, a child 
only seven years old [see 1. 4307] heir to his crown, under the tutelage 
of his sister Quindride. This ambitious woman committed his person to 
the care of one Ascobert, whom she had hired to make away with 
him. The wicked minister decoyed the innocent child into an unfre- 
quented wood, cut off his head, and buried him under a thorn-tree. 
His corpse is said to have been discovered by a heavenly ray of light 
which shone over the place, and by the following inscription : — 

In Clent cow-pasture, under a thorn, 
Of head bereft, lies Kenelm, king bom.' 

Milton tells the story in his History of Britain, bk. iv. ed. 1695, P- 218, 
and refers us to Matthew of Westminster. He adds that the 'inscription' 
was inside a note, which was miraculously dropped by a dove on the 
altar at Rome. Our great poet's verson of it is ; — 

' Low in a Mead of Kine, under a thorn. 
Of Head bereft, li'th poor Kenelm King-born.' 

Clent is near the boundary between Stafitbrdshire and Worcestershire. 

Neither of these accounts mentions Kenelm's dream, but it is given 
in his Life, as printed in Early Eng. Poems, ed. Furnivall (Phil. Soc. 
1862), p. 51, and in Caxton's Golden Legend. St. Kenelm dreamt 
that he saw a noble tree with waxlights upon it, and that he climbed 
to the top of it ; whereupon one of his best friends cut it down, and he 
was turned into a little bird, and flew up to heaven. The little bird 
denoted his soul, and the flight to heaven his death. 

4307. For traisoitn^ i. e. for fear of treason. 

4314. Cipioiin. The Somnium Scipionis of Cicero, as annotated by 
Macrobius, was a favourite work during the middle ages. See note to 
1. 31 of the Pari, of Foules. 

4328. See the Menkes Tale, B. 3917, and the note, p. 246. 

433L Lo heer Andfomacha. Andromache's dream is not to be found 
in Homer. It is mentioned in chapter xxiv. of Dares Phrygius, the 
authority for the history of the Trojan war most popular in the middle 
ages. See the Troy-book, ed. Panton and Donaldson (E. E. T. S.), 
1. 8425 ; or Lydgate's Siege of Troye, c. 27. 

4341. asforconclustoim, in conclusion. 

4344. telle . . . no store, set no store by them ; reckon them of no 
value ; count them as useless. 

4346. never a del, never a whit, not in the slightest degree. 

LI. 4275-446.] THE NONNE PREESTES TALE. 255 

4350. This line is repeated from the Compleynt of Mars, 1. 61. 

4353-6. ' By way of quiet retaliation for Partlet's sarcasm, he cites 
a Latin proverbial saying, in 1. 344, * Mulier est hominis confusio,' which 
he turns into a pretended compliment by the false translation in 11. 345, 
346.' — Marsh. Tyrwhitt quotes it from Vincent of Beauvais, Spec. 
Hist. X. 71. Chaucer has already referred to this saying above; see 
p. 207, 1. 2296. ' A woman, as saith the philosofre [i. e. Vincent], is the 
confusion of man, insaciable, tS:c. '; Dialogue of Creatures, cap. cxxi. 
' Est damnum dulce mulier, confusio sponsi ' ; Adolphi Fabulae, x. 
567 ; pr. in Leyser, Hist. Poet. Med. Aevi, p. 2031. Cf. note to 
D. 1195. 

4365. lay, for that lay. Chaucer omits the relative, as is frequently 
done in Middle English poetry ; see note to 1. 4090. 

4377. According to Beda, the creation took place at the vernal 
equinox ; see Morley, Eng. Writers, 1888, ii. 146. Cf. note to 1. 4045. 

4384. See note on 1. 4045 above. 

4.395. Cf. Man of Lawes Tale, B. 421, and note. See Prov. xiv. 13. 

4398. Inthe margin of ^LSS. E.and Hn. is written ' Petrus Comestor,' 
who is probably here referred to. 

4402. See the Squieres Tale, F. 287, and the note. 

4405. col-fox; explained by Bailey as a 'coal-black fox'; and he 
seems to have caught the right idea. Col- here represents M. E. col, 
coal ; and the reference is to the brant-fox, which is explained in the 
NewE. Diet. as borrowed from the G.brand-fuchs, 'the German name 
of a variety of the fox, chiefly distinguished by a greater admixture of 
black in its fur ; according to Grimm, it has black feet, ears, and tail.' 
Chaucer expressly refers to the black-tipped tail and ears in 1. 4094 
above. Mr. Bradley cites the G. kohlfuchs and Du. koolvos, similarly 
formed ; but the ordinary dictionaries do not give these names. The 
old explanation of col-fox as meaning ' deceitful fox ' is difficult to 
establish, and is now unnecessary. 

4412. undern ; see note to E. 260. 

4417. i'crtrzV'/, i. e. Judas Iscariot. Gem'lon; the traitor who caused 
the defeat of Charlemagne, and the death of Roland ; see Book of the 
Duchesse, 1121, and the note in vol. i. p. 491. 

4418. See Vergil, ^n. ii. 259. 

4430. biilte it to the bren, sift the matter ; cf. the phrase to boult the 
bran. See the argument in Troilus, iv. 967 ; cf. Milton, P. L. ii. 560. 

4432. Boece, i. e. Boethius. See note to Kn. Tale, A. 11 63. 

Bradwardyn. Thomas Bradwardine was Proctor in the University of 
Oxford in the year 1325, and afterwards became Divinity Professor and 
Chancellor of the University. His chief work is ' On the Cause of God ' 
{JDe Causa Dei). See Morley's English Writers, iv. 61. 

4446. colde, baneful, fatal. The proverb is Icelandic ; ' kold eru opt 
kvenna-ra^,' cold (fatal) are oft women's counsels; Icel. Diet. s. v. kaldr. 
It occurs early, in The Proverbs of Alfred, ed. Morris, Text i, 1. 336 : — 
' Cold red is quene red.' Cf. B. 2286, and the note. 


4450-6. Imitated from Le Roman de la Rose, 15397-437. 

4461. Phisiologiis. ' He alludes to a book in Latin metre, entitled 
Physiologus de Naturis xii. Animalium, by one Theobaldus, whose age 
is not known. The chapter De Sirenis begins thus : — 

Sirenae sunt monstra maris resonantia magnis 

Vocibus, et modulis cantus formantia multis, 

Ad quas incaute veniunt saepissime nautae, 

Quae faciunt sompnum nimia dulcedine vocum.' — Tyrwhitt. 

See The Bestiary, in Dr. Morris's Old English Miscellany, pp. 18, 
207 ; Philip de Thaun, Le Bestiaire, 1. 664 ; Babees Book, pp. 233, 237 ; 
Miitzner's Sprachproben, i. 55 ; Gower, C. A. i. 58 ; and of. Rom. 
Rose, Eng. Version, 680 (in vol. i. p. 122). 
4467. In Douglas's Virgil, prol. to Book xi. st. 15, we have — 

' Becum thow cowart, craudoun recryand, 
And by consent cry cok, thi deid is dycht'; 

i. e. if thou turn coward, (and) a recreant craven, and consent to cry 
cok^ thy death is imminent. In a note on this passage, Ruddiman 
says — * Cok is the sound which cocks utter when they are beaten.' But 
it is probable that this is only a guess, and that Douglas is merely 
quoting Chaucer. To cry cok ! cok ! refers rather to the utterance of 
rapid cries of alarm, as fowls cry when scared. Brand (Pop. Antiq., 
ed. Ellis, ii. 58) copies Ruddiman's explanation of the above passage. 

4484. Boethius wrote a treatise De Musica, quoted by Chaucer 
in the Hous of Fame ; see my note to 1. 788 of that poem (vol. iii. 
p. 260). 

4490. * As I hope to retain the use of my two eyes.' So Havelok, 

• 2545 • <So mote ich brouke mi Rith eie!' 

And 1. 1743 : — * So mote ich brouke finger or to.' 
And 1. 311 : — 'So brouke i euere mi blake swire!' 
j'w/r^ = neck. See also Broitke in the Glossary to Gamelyn. 
4502. daun Burtiel ike Asse. 'The storj' alluded to is in a poem of 
Nigellus Wireker, entitled Bumellus sen Speculum Stultorum, written 
in the time of Richard I. In the Chester Whitsun Playes, Burnellh 
used as a nickname for an ass. The original word was probably 
briinell, from its broivn colour ; as \\\^fox below is called Riisscl, from 
his red colour.' — Tyrwhitt. The Latin story is printed in The Anglo- 
Latin Satirists of the Twelfth Century, ed. T. Wright, i. 55 ; see also 
Wright's Biogi'aphiaBritannica Literaria,Anglo-Norman Period, p. 356. 
There is an amusing translation of it in Lowland Scotch, printed 
as ' The Unicornis Tale' in Small's edition of Laing's Select Remains 
of Scotch Poetry, ed. 1885, p. 285. It tells how a certain young 
Gundulfus broke a cock's leg by throwing a stone at him. On the 
morning of the day when Gundulfus was to be ordained and to receive 
a benefice, the cock took his revenge by not crowing till much later 


than usual ; and so Gundulfus was too late for the ceremony, and lost 
his benefice. Cf. Warton, Hist. E. P., ed. 1871, ii. 352; Lounsbury, 
Studies in Chaucer, ii. 338. As to the name Rtissel, see note to 1. 4039. 

4516. See Rom. of the Rose (E. version), 1050, MS. E. alone reads 
coiotes; Hn. Cm. Cp. Pt. have court \ Ln. coiirte ; HI. hous. 

4519. Ecclesiaste ; not Ecclesiastes, but Ecclesiasticus, xii. 10, 11, 16. 
Cf. Tale of Melibeus, B. 2368. 

4525. Tyrwhitt cites the O. F. {orm gargaie, i. e. (throat, from the 
Roman de Rou. Several examples of it are given by Godefroy. 

4537. O Gaufred. ' He alludes to a passage in the Nova Poetria of 
Geoffrey de Vinsauf, published not long after the death of Richard I. 
In this work the author has not only given instructions for composing 
in the different styles of poetry, but also examples. His specimen of 
the plaintive style begins thus : — 

* Neustria, sub clypeo regis defensa Ricardi, 
Indefensa modo, gestu testare dolorem ; 
Exundent oculi lacrimas ; exterminet ora 
Pallor ; connodet digitos tortura ; cruentet 
Interiora dolor, et verberet aethera clamor ; 
Tota peris ex morte sua. Mors non fuit eius. 
Bed tua, non una, sed publica mortis origo. 
O Veneris lacrimosa dies ! O sydus amarum ! 
Ilia dies tua nox fuit, et Venus ilia venenum. 
Ilia dedit vulnus,' &c. 

These lines are sufficient to show the object and the propriety of 
Chaucer's ridicule. The whole poem is printed in Leyser's Hist. Poet. 
Med. J^\\, pp. S62-978.' — Tyrwhitt. See a description of the poem, 
with numerous quotations, in Wright's Biographia Britannica Literaria, 
Anglo-Norman Period, p. 400 ; cf. Lounsbury, Studies, ii. 341. 

4538. Richard I. died on April 6, 1199, on Tuesday ; but he received 
his wound on Friday, March 26. 

4540. Why ne hadde /= O that I had. 

4547. streite swerd = drawn (naked) sword. Cf. Aeneid, ii. 333, 

334 • « Statyi'rr/ acies mucrone corusco 

Stricta, parata neci.' 

4548. See Aeneid, ii. 550-553. 

4553. Hasdrubal; not Hannibal's brother, but the King of Carthage 
when the Romans burnt it, B.C. 146. Hasdrubal slew himself; and 
his wife and her two sons burnt themselves in despair ; see Orosius, iv. 
13. 3, or yElfred's translation, ed. Sweet, p. 212. Lydgate has the story 
in his Fall of Princes, bk. v. capp. 12 and 27. 

4573. See note to Ho. Fame, 1277 (in vol. iii. p. 273). ' Colle 
furit'; Morley, Eng. Writers, 1889, iv. 179. 

4584. Walsingham relates how, in 1381, Jakke Straw and his men 
killed many Flemings 'cum clamore consueto.' He also speaks of the 

noise made by the rebels as ' clamor horrendissimus.' See Jakke in 

* * * „ 


Tyrwhitt's Glossaiy. So also, in Riley's Memorials of London, p. 456, 
it is said, with respect to the same event — ' In the Vintry was a very 
great massacre of Flemings.' 

4590. houped. See Piers Plowman, B. vi. 174; '' hoitpcd after 
Hunger, that herde hym,' &c. 

4616. Repeated in D. 1062. 

4633. ' Mes retiengnent le grain et jettent hors lapaille'; Test, de 
Jean de Meun, 2168. 

4635. my Lord. A side-note in MS. E. explains this to refer to the 
Archbishop of Canterbury ; doubtless William Courtenay, archbishop 
from 1 38 1 to 1396. Cf. note to 1. 4584, which shews that this Tale is 
later than 1381 ; and it was probably earlier than 1396. Note that 
good m eft is practically a compound, as in 1. 4630. Hence read good, 
not gfld-e. 

Epilogue to the Nonne Preestes Tale. 

4641. Repeated from B. 3135. 

4643. Thee wer-e nede, there would be need for thee. 

4649. brasil, a wood used for dyeing of a bright red colour ; hence 
the allusion. It is mentioned as being used for dyeing leather in 
Riley's Memorials of London, p. 364. ' Brazil-wood \ this name is now 
applied in trade to the dye-wood imported from Pernambuco, which 
is derived from certain species of Ccesalpinia indigenous there. But 
it originally applied to a dye-wood of the same genus which was im- 
ported from India, and which is now known in trade as Sappan. The 
history of the word is very curious. For when the name was applied 
to the newly discovered region in S. America, probably, as Barros 
alleges, because it produced a dye-wood similar in character to the 
brazil of the East, the trade-name gradually became appropriated to 
the S. American product, and was taken away from that of the E. 
Indies. See some further remarks in Marco Polo, ed. Yule, 2nd ed. ii. 

'This is alluded to also by Camocs (Lusiad, x. 140). Burton's trans- 
lation has : — 

" But here, where earth spreads wider, ye shall claim 
Realms by the 7-tcddy dye-wood made renowned ; 
These of the * Sacred Cross ' shall win the name. 
By your first navy shall that world be found." 

' The medieval forms of brazil were many ; in Italian, it is generally 
verzi, verztno, or the like.' — Yule, Hobson-Jobson, p. 86. 

Again — ' Sappan, the wood oi Ccesalpinia sappan ; the baqqam of the 
Arabs, and the Brazil-wood of medieval commerce. The tree appears 
to be indigenous in Malabar, the Deccan, and the Malay peninsula.'— id. 
p. 600. And in Yule's edition of Marco Polo, ii. 315, he tells us that 
* it is extensively used by native dyers, chiefly for common and cheap 


cloths, and for fine mats. The dye is precipitated dark-brown with 
iron, and red with alum.' 

Cf. Way's note on the word in the Prompt. Parv. p. 47. 

Florio explains Ital. verzino as 'brazell woode, or fernanbucke 
[Pernambuco] to dye red withall.' 

The etymology is disputed, but I think brasil and Ital. verzino are 
alike due to the Pers. wars, saffron ; cf. Arab, ^aaris, dyed with saffron 
or wars. 

greyn 0/ Portingale. Greyn^ mod. Y.. grain, is the term applied to 
the dye produced by the coccus insect, often termed, in commerce and 
the arts, kervies\ see Marsh, Lectures on the E. Language, Lect. III. 
The colour thus produced was ' fast,' i. e. would not wash out ; hence the 
phrase to engrain, or to dye in grain, meaning to dye of a fast colour. 
Various tones of red were thus produced, one of which was crimson, 
and another carmine, both forms being derivatives of kermes. Of 
Portingale means 'imported from Portugal.' In the Libell of English 
Policy, cap. ii. (1. 132), it is said that, among 'the commoditees of 
Portingale'' are : — 'oyl, wyn, osey [Alsace wine], wex, and graine.' 

4652. to anotJicr, to another of the pilgrims. This is so absurdly 
indefinite that it can hardly be genuine. LI. 4637-4649 are in Chaucer's 
most characteristic manner, and are obviously genuine ; but there, 
I suspect, we must stop, viz. at the word Portingale. The next three 
lines form a mere stop-gap, and are either spurious, or were jotted 
down temporarily, to await the time of revision. The former is more 

This Epilogue is only found in three MSS.; (see footnote, p. 289). In 
Dd., Group G follows, beginning with the Second Nun's Tale. In the 
other two MSS., Group H follows, i. e. the Manciple's Tale ; neverthe- 
less, MS. Addit. absurdly puts the Nunne, in place of another. The 
net result is, that, at this place, the gap is complete ; with no hint as to 
what Tale should follow. 

It is worthy of note that this Epilogue is preser\'ed in Thynne and 
the old black-letter editions, in which it is followed immediately by 
the Manciple's Prologue. This arrangement is obviously wrong, 
because that Prologue is not introduced by the Host (as said in 
1. 4652). 

In 1. 4650, Thynne has But for JVow ; and his last line runs — ' Sayd 
to a nother man, as ye shal here.' I adopt his reading of to for unto 
(as in the MSS.). 

S 2 


The Phisiciens Tale. 

For remarks on the spurious Prologues to this Tale, see vol. iii. 
p. 434. For further remarks on the Tale, see the same, p. 435, where 
its original is printed in full. 

1. The story is told by Livy, lib. iii. ; and, of course, his narrative 
is the source of all the rest. But Tyrwhitt well remarks, in a note to 
1. 12074 (i.e. C. 140) : — 'In the Discourse, «S:c., I forgot to mention 
the Roman de la Rose as one of the sources of this tale ; though, upon 
examination, I find that our author has drawn niore from thence, than 
from either Gower or Livy-' It is absurd to argue, as in Bell's Chaucer, 
that our poet must necessarily have known Livy ' in the original,' 
and then to draw the conclusion that we must look to Livy only as 
the true source of the Tale. For it is perfectly obvious that Tyrwhitt is 
right as regards the Roman de la Rose ; and the belief that Chaucer 
may have read the tale ' in the original ' does not alter the fact that 
he trusted much more to the French text. In this very first line, he is 
merely quoting Le Roman, 11. 5617, 8 : — 

' Qui fu fille Virginius, 
Si cum dist Titus Livius.' 

The story in the French text occupies 70 lines (5613-5682, ed. 
Meon) ; the chief points of resemblance are noted below. 

Gower has the same story, Conf Amant. iii. 264-270 ; but I see no 
reason why Chaucer should be considered as indebted to him. It is, 
however, clear that, if Chaucer and Gower be here compared, the 
latter suffers considerably by the comparison. 

Gower gives the names of Icilius, to whom Virginia was betrothed, 
and of Marcus Claudius. But Chaucer omits the name Marcus, and 
ignores the existence of Icilius. The French text does the same. 

IL This is the 'noble goddesse Nature' mentioned in the Pari, of 
Joules, 11. 368, 379. Cf. note to 1. 16. 

14. Pigmaiio7i, Pygmalion ; alluding to Ovid, Met. x. 247, where 
it is said of him : — 

* Interea niueum mira feliciter arte 
Sculpit ebur, formamque dedit, qua femina nasci 
Nulla potest ; operisque sui concepit amorem.' 


In the margin of E. Hn. is the note — 'Ouere in Methamorphosios'; 
which supplies the reference ; but cf. note to 1. 16 below, shewing 
that Chaucer also had in his mind Le Roman de la Rose, 1. 16379. 
So also the author of the Pearl, 1. 750 ; see Morris, Allit. Poems. 

16. In the margin of E. Hn. we find the note: — 'Apelles fecit 
mirabile opus in tumulo Darii ; vide in Alexandri libro .1.° [Hn. lias 
.6."] ; deZanze in libro Tullii.' This note is doubtless the poet's own ; 
see further, as to Apelles, in the note to D. 498. 

Zatizis, Zeuxis. The corruption of the name was easy, owing to the 
confusion in MSS. between n and u. ^ In the note above, we are 
referred to Tullius, i.e. Cicero. Dr. Reid kindly tells me that Zeuxis 
is mentioned, with Apelles, in Cicero's De Oratore, iii. § 26, and 
Brutus, § 70; also, with other artists, in Academia, ii. § 146; De 
Finibus, ii. § 115 ; and alone, in De Inventione, ii. § 52, where a long 
story is told of him. Cf. note to Troil. iv. 414. 

However, the fact is that Chaucer really derived his knowledge of 
Zeuxis from Le Roman de la Rose (ed. Meon, I. 16387) ; for comparison 
with the context of that line shews numerous points of resemblance to 
the present passage in our author. Jean de ]\Icun is there speaking 
of Nature, and of the inability of artists to vie with her, which is 
precisely Chaucer's argument here. The passage is too long for 
quotation, but I may cite such lines as these : — 

*Ne /'/;««//<?/? entaillier ' (1. 16379), 

* \-oire Apelles 
Que ge moult bon paintre appelles, 
Biautes de Ii james descrive 
Ne porroit,' &c. (1. 16381). 

* Zeuxis neis par son biau paindre 
Ne porroit a tel forme ataindre,' &c. (1. 163S7). 

Si cum Titles le nous remembre 
Ou livre de sa reioriqiie' ; (1. 16398). 

Here the reference is to the passage in De Oratore, iii. § 26. 

' Mes ci ne peust-il riens faire 
Zeuxis, tant seust bien portraire, 
Ne colorer sa portraiture, 
Tant est de grant biaute Nature' (1. 16401). 

A little further on, Nature is made to say (1. 16970) : — 

*Cis Diex meismes, par sa grace, . . . 
Tant m'ennora, tant me tint chere, 
Qu'il m'establi sa chamberiere . . . 
Por chamberiere ! certes vaire, 
Por connestable, et por vicaire.' 

^ Spelt Xeuxis in one MS., and Zcnsis in another, in the same passage ; see 
Anglo-Latin Satirists, ed. Wright, ii. 303. 


20. See just above ; and cf. Pari, of Foules, 379 — * Nature, the 
vicaire of thalmighty lord.' 

32-4. Cf. Le Rom. de la Rose, 16443-6. 

35. From this line to 1. 120, Chaucer has it all his own way. This 
fine passage is not in Le Roman, nor in Gower. 

37. Le. she had golden hair; cf. Troil. iv. 736, v. 8. 

49. Perhaps Chaucer found the wisdom of Pallas in Vergil, Aen. 
V. 704 :— 

' Turn senior Nautes, unum Tritonia Pallas 
Quem docuit, mirltaque insignem reddidit arte.' 

50. fdcotindy eloquence ; cL/acotinde in Pari. Foules, 558. 

54. Souninge iti, conducing to ; see A. 307, B. 3157, and notes. 

58. Baciis, Bacchus, i. e. wine ; see next note. 

59. yoiiihe, youth ; such is the reading in MSS. E. Hn., and edd. 
1532 and 1561. IMS. Cm. has lost a leaf; the rest have thought., 
which gives no sense. It is clear that the reading thought arose from 
misreading the y oi youthe as p (th). How easily this may be done 
appears from Wright's remark, that the Lansdowne MS. has youthe^ 
whilst, in fact, it hdiS pouht. 

Tyrwhitt objects to the reading jr?/^///!?, and proposes slouthc, wholly 
without authority. But youthe, meaning 'youthful vigour,' is right 
enough ; I sec no objection to it at all. Rather, it is simply taken 
from Ovid, Ars Amat. i. 243 : — 

' Illic saepe aminos iuuenum rapuere puellae ; 
Et Venus in uinis, ignis in igne fiiit' 

Only a few lines above (1. 232), Bacchus occurs, and there is a reference 
to wine, throughout the context. Cf. the Romaunt of the Rose, 
1. 4925 :- 

* For Youthe set man in al folye . . . 
In leccherj'e and in outrage.' 

Cf. note to 1. 65. 

60. Alluding to a proverbial phrase, occurring in Horace, Sat»ii. 3. 
321, viz. * oleum adde camino'; and elsewhere. 

65. This probably refers to the same passage in Ovid as is mentioned 
in the note to 1. 59. For we there find (1. 229) : — 

* Dant etiam positis aditum conuiuia mensis ; 
Est aliquid, praeter uina, quod inde petas . . 
Vina parant animos, faciuntque caloribus aptos'; &c. 

79. See A. 476, and the note. Chaucer is here thinking of the 
same passage in Le Roman de la Rose. I quote a few lines 
(3930-46) :— 

' Une vielle, que Diex honnisse ! 
Avoit o li por li guetier, 
Qui ne fesoit autre mestier 


Fors espier tant solement 

Qu' il ne se maine folemcnt . . . 

Bel-Acucil se taist et escoute 

Por la vielle que il redoute, 

Et n'est si hardis qu'il se moeve, 

Que la vielle en li n'apergoeve 

Aucune fole contenance, 

Qu'el scet toute la vielle dance.' 

See the English version in vol. i. p. 205, 11. 4285-4300. 

82. See the footnote for another reading. The line there given may 
also be genuine. It is deficient in the first foot. 

85. This is like our proverb : — ' Set a thief to catch [or take] a thief,' 
An old poacher makes a good gamekeeper. 

98. Cf. Prov. xiii. 24 ; P. Plowman, B. v, 41, 

101, See a similar proverb in P, Plowman, C. x. 265, and my note 
on the line. The Latin lines quoted in P. Plowman are from Alanus 
de Insulis, Liber Parabolarum, cap. i. 31 ; they are printed in Leyser, 
Hist. Poet. Med. Aevi, 1721, p, 1066, in the following form : — 

' Sub molli pastore capit lanam lupus, et grex 
Incustoditus dilaceratur eo,' 

117, T//e doctoiir, i. e. the teacher; viz. St. Augustine, (There is 
here no reference whatever to the 'Doctor' or * Phisicien ' who is 
supposed to tell the tale.) In the margin of MSS, E. Hn. is written 
* Augustinus'; and the matter is put beyond doubt by a passage in 
the Persones Tale, I, 484 : — 'and, after the word of seint Augustin, it 
[Envye] is sorwe of other mannes wele, and loye of othere mennes 
harm,' See note to I. 484. 

The same idea is exactly reproduced in P, Plowman, L, v. 112, 
113. Cf, ' Inuidus alterius macrescit rebus opimis '; Horace, Epist. 
i, 2. 57. 

135. From Le Roman, 1. 5620-3 ; see vol. iii. p. 436. 

140. chcrl, dependant. It is remarkable that, throughout the story, 
MSS. E. Hn. and Cm. have cherl, but the rest have clerk. In 
11. 140, 142, 153, 164, the Camb, MS, is deficient ; but it at once gives 
the reading cherl in 1. 191, and subsequently. 

Either reading might serve; in Le Roman, 1. 5614, the dependant 
is called ' son serjant ' ; and in I, 5623, he is called ' Li ribaus' 
i. e, the ribald, which Chaucer Englishes by cherl. But when we 
come to C. 289, the MSS, gives us the choice of 'fals cherV and 
' cursed theef ; very few have clerk (like MS. Sloane 1685). Cf. vol. iii. 


153, 154, The ' churl's' name was Marcus Claudius, and the 'judge' 

was ' Appius Claudius.' Chaucer simply follows Jean de Meun, who 

calls the judge Apius ; and speaks of the churl as ' Claudius li 

chalangieres ' in 1, 5675. 


165. Cf. Le Roman, 1. 5623-7 ; see vol. iii. p. 436. 

168-9. From Le Roman, 5636-8, as above. 

174. The first foot is defective; read — Thou | shalt have | al, &c. 
al right, complete justice. MS. Cm. has alle, 

184. Cf. Le Roman, 1. 5628-33. 

203. From Le Roman, 5648-54. 

207-253. The whole of this fine passage appears to be original. 
There is no hint of it in Le Roman de la Rose, except as regards 
1. 225, where Le Roman (1. 5659) has : — ' Car il par amors, sans 
hainc.' We may compare the farewell speech of Virginius to his 
daughter in Webster's playof Appius and Virginia, Act iv. sc. I. 

240. Icpie., Jephtha ; in the Vulgate, /r////^. See Judges, xi. 37, 38. 
MSS. E. Hn. have in the margin — ' fuit illo tempore Jephte Galaandes ' 
\error for Galaadites]. This reference by Virginia to the book of 
Judges is rather startling ; but such things are common enough in old 
authors, especially in our dramatists. 

255. Here Chaucer returns to Le Roman, 5660-82. The rendering 
is pretty close down to 1. 276. 

280. Ag7-yse of, shudder at ; * nor in Avhat kind of way the worm of 
conscience may shudder because of (the man's) wicked life'; cf. 'of 
pitee gan agryse,' B. 614. When agryse is used with of it is 
commonly passive, not intransitive ; see examples in Matzner and in 
the New E. Dictionary. Cf. been afered, i.e. be scared, in 1. 284. 

'Vermis conscientiae tripliciter lacerabit'; Innocent HL, De Con- 
temptu Mundi, 1. iii. c. 2. 

286. Cf. Pers. Tale, L 93 : — 'repentant folk, that stinte for to sinne, 
and forlete [give up] sinne er that sinne forlete hem.' 

Words of the Host. 

In the Six-text Edition, prcf. col. 58, Dr. Furnivall calls attention 
to the curious variations in this passage, in the MSS., especially in 
II. 289-292, and in 297-300 ; as well as in 11. 487, 488 in the Par- 
doneres Tale. I note these variations below, in their due places. 

287. wood, mad, frantic, furious ; esp. applied to the transient 
madness of anger. See Kn. Tale, A. 1301, 1329, 1578; also Mids. 
Nt. Dr. ii. i. 192. Cf. G. ivuihcnd, raging. 

288. Harrow ! also spelt haro ; a cry of astonishment ; see 
A. 3286, 3825, B. 4235, &c. ^ Haro, the ancient Norman hue and cry; 
the exclamation of a person to procure assistance when his person 
or property was in danger. To cry out haro on any one, to denounce 
his evil doings '; Halliwell. Spenser has it, F. Q. ii. 6. 43 ; see Harrow 
in Nares, and the note above, to A. 3286. 

On the oaths used by the Host, see note to 1. 65 1 below. 

289. fals cherl is the reading in E. Hn., and is evidently right ; see 

LI. 165-303] WORDS OF THE HOST. 26s 


note to 1. 140 above. It is supported by several MSS., among which 
are Harl. 7335, Addit. 2 571 8, Addit. 5140, Sloane 1686, Barlow 20, 
Hatton I, Camb. Univ. Lib. Dd. 4. 24 and Mm. 2. 5, and Trin. Coll. 
Cam. R. 3. 3. A few haxe/als clerk, viz. Sloane 1685, Arch. Seld. B. 14, 
Rawl. Poet. 149, Bodley 414. Harl. 7333 has a fals the/, Acursid 
Justise ; out of which numerous MSS. have developed the reading 
a cursed theef, a fals lusltce, which rolls the two Claudii into one. It 
is clearly wrong, but appears in good MSS., viz. in Cp. Pt. Ln. HI. 
See vol. iii. pp. 437-8, and the note to 1. 291 below. 

290. shamfiiL M SS. Ln. H 1. turn this into sc/u'ttd/iil, i. e. ignominious, 
which does not at all alter the sense. It is a matter of small moment, 
but I may note that of the twenty-five MSS. examined by Dr. Fur- 
nivall, only the two above-named MSS. adopt this variation. 

291,292. Here MSS. Cp. Ln. HI., as noted in the footnote, have 
two totally different lines ; and this curious variation divides the M.SS. 
(at least in the present passage) into two sets. In the yfrj-/ of these 
we find P:. Hn. Harl. 7335, Addit. 25718, Addit. 5140, Sloane 1685 
and 1686, Barlow 20, Arch. Seld. B. 14, Rawl. Poet. 149, Hatton i, 
Bodley 414, Camb. Dd. 4. 24, and Mm. 2. 5, Trin. Coll. Cam. R. 3. 3. 
In the second set we find Cp. Ln. HI., Harl. 1758, Royal 18. C. 2, 
Laud 739, Camb. li. 3. 26, Royal 17. D. 15, and Harl. 72,33- 

There is no doubt as to the correct reading; for the 'false cherl ' 
and 'false justice' were two different persons, and it was only 
because they had been inadvertently rolled into one (see note to 
1. 289) that it became possible to speak of * his body,' ' lu's bones,' and 
* Jnin.' Hence the lines are rightly given in the text which I have 

There is a slight difficulty, however, in the rime, which should be 
noted. We see that the / in culvocats was silent, and that the word was 
pronounced (ad'vokaa's), riming with alias (alaa's), where the raised 
dot denotes the accent. That this was so, is indicated by the following 
spellings: — Pt. nduocas, and so also in Harl. 7335, Addit. 5140, 
Bodl. 414; Rawl. Poet. i^<^h3.s advocas \ whilst Sloane 1685, Sloane 
1686, and Camb. j\Im. 2. 5 have aduocase, and Barlow 20, advocase. 
MS. Trin. Coll. R. 3. 3 has adicocasse. The testimony of ten MSS. 
may suffice ; but it is worth noting that the F. pi. adiiocas occurs in 
Le Roman de la Rose, 5107. 

293. ' Alas ! she (Virginia) bought her beauty too dear' ; she paid too 
high a price ; it cost her her life. 

297-300. These four lines are genuine ; but several MSS., including 
E. Hn. Pt., omit the former pair (297-8), whilst several others omit 
the latter pair. Ed. 1532 contains both pairs, but alters 1. 299. 

299. bothe yi/tes, both (kinds of) gifts ; i. e. gifts of fortune, such as 
wealth, and of nature, such as beauty. Compare Dr. Johnson's poem 
on the Vanity of Human Wishes, imitated from the tenth satire of 

303. is nofors, it is no matter. // must be supplied, for the sense. 


Sometimes Chaucer omits // is, and simply writes tio fors, as in 
E. 1092, 2430. We also find I do tio fors, I care not, D. 1234; 
and They ycve 710 fors, they care not, Romaunt of the Rose, 4826. 
Palsgrave has — ' I gyue no force, I care nat for a thing, // nc 7nen 

306. Ypocras is the usual spelling, in English INISS., of Hip- 
pocrates ; see Prologue A. 431. So also in the Book of the Duchess, 

171 i«72 * 

^' 1 ^' ' ' Ne hele me may physicien, 

Noght Ypocras, ne Galien.' 

In the present passage it does not signify the physician himself, but 
a beverage named after him. * It was composed of wine, with spices 
and sugar, strained through a cloth. It is said to have taken its name 
from Hippocaies' sleeve, the term apothecaries gave to a strainer'; 
Halliwell's Diet. s. v. Hippocras. In the same work, s. v. Ipocras, are 
several receipts for making it, the simplest being one copied from 
Arnold's Chronicle : — ' Take a quart of red wyne, an ounce of synamon, 
and half an unce of gynger ; a quarter of an ounce of greynes, and 
long peper, and halfe a pounde of sugar ; and brose all this, and than 
put them in a bage of wuUen clothe, made therefore, with the wyne ; 
and lete it hange over a vessel, tyll the wyne be rune thorowe.' Halli- 
well adds that — 'Ipocras seems to have been a great favourite with 
our ancestors, being served up at every entertainment, public or private. 
It generally made a part of the last course, and was taken immediately 
after dinner, with wafers or some other light biscuits'; <S:c. See 
Pegge's Form of Cur)', p. 161 ; Babees Book, ed. Furnivall, pp. 125- 
128, 267, 378 ; Skelton, ed. Dyce, ii. 285 ; and Nares's Glossary, s. v. 

Galiaties. In like manner this word (hitherto unexplained as far as 
I am aware) must signify drinks named after Galen, whose name is 
spelt Galien (in Latin, Galiemis) not only in Chaucer, but in other 
authors. See the quotation above from the Book of the Duchess. 
Speght guessed the word to mean ' Galen's works.' 

310. lyk a prelat, like a dignitary of the church, like a bishop or 
abbot. ]\Ir. Jephson, in Bell's edition, suggests that the Doctor was in 
holy orders, and that this is why we are told in the Prologue, 1. 438, 
that 'his studie was but litel on the bible.' I see no reason for this 
guess, which is quite unsupported. Chaucer does not say he is a 
prelate, but that he is like one ; because he had been highly educated, 
as a member of a ' learned profession ' should be. 

Rofiyan is here of three syllables and rimes with man ; in 1. 320 it 
is of two syllables, and rimes with anon. It looks as if the Host and 
Pardoner were not very clear about the saint's name, only knowing 
him to swear by. In Pilkington's Works (Parker Society), we find 
a mention of ' St. Tronian's fast,' p. 80 ; and again, of ' St. Rinian'sfast,' 
p. 551, in a passage which is a repetition of the former. The forms 
Roftyan and Rinian are evidently corruptions of Ronan, a saint whose 

L1.306-3I3-] WORDS OF THE HOST. 267 

name is well known to readers of ' St. Ronan's Well.' Of St. Ronan 
scarcely anything is known. The fullest account that can easily be 
found is the following : — • 

'Ronan, B. and C. Feb. 7. — Beyond the mere mention of his com- 
memoration as S. Ronan, bishop at Kilmaronen, in Levenax, in the 
body of the Breviary of Aberdeen, there is nothing said about this 
saint. . . Camerarius (p. 86) makes this Ronanus the same as he who 
is mentioned by Beda (Hist. Ecc, lib. iii. c. 25). This Ronan died in 
A.D. 778. The Ulster annals give at [a. d.] 737 (736) — " Mors Ronain 
Abbatis Cinngaraid." yEngus places this saint at the 9th of Februar}^,' 
&c. ; Kalendars of Scottish Saints, by Bp. A. P. Forbes, 1S72, p. 441. 
Kilmaronen is Kihnaronock, in the county and parish of Dumbarton. 
There are traces of St. Ronan in about seven place-names in Scotland, 
according to the same authority. Under the date of Feb. 7 (February 
vol. ii. 3 B), the Acta Sanctorum has a few lines about St. Ronan, who, 
according to some, flourished under King Malduin, A. D. 664-684 ; or, 
according to others, about 603. The notice concludes with the remark 
— ' Maiorem lucem desideramus.' Beda says that * Ronan, a Scot by 
nation, but instructed in ecclesiastical truth either in France or Italy,' 
was mixed up in the controversy which arose about the keeping of 
Easter, and was ' a most zealous defender of the true Easter.' This 
controversy took place about A.D. 652, which does not agree with the 
date above. 

311. Tyrwhitt thinks that Shakespeare remembered this expression 
of Chaucer, when he describes the Host of the Garter as frequently 
repeating the phrase ' said I well ': Merry Wives of Windsor, i. 3. 11; 
ii. I. 226; ii. 3. 93, 99. 

/« iertnc, in learned terms ; cf. Prol. A. 323. 

312. ertne, to grieve. For the explanation of unusual words, the 
Glossar}' should, in general, be consulted ; the Notes are intended, for 
the most part, to explain only phrases and allusions, and to give 
illustrations of the Jise of words. Such illustrations are, moreover, 
often omitted when they can easily be found by consulting such 
a work as Stratmann's Old English Dictionarj'. In the present case, for 
example, Stratmann gives twelve instances of the use of eariii or arm 
as an adjective, meaning wretched ; four examples oi crinlic, miserable ; 
seven of earming, a miserable creature ; and five of earinthe, misery. 
These twenty-eight additional examples shew that the word was 
formerly well understood, \^'e may further note that a later instance 
of crincii or e7'mc, to grieve, occurs in Caxton's translation of Reynard 
the Fox, A.D. 1 48 1 ; see Arber's reprint, p. 48, 1. 5 : ' Thenne departed 
he fro the kynge so heuyly that many of them crnwd,' i.e. then departed 
he from the king so sorrowfully that many of them mourned, or were 
greatly grieved. 

313. cardiacle, pain about the heart, spasm of the heart ; more 
correctly, cardiake, as the / is excrescent. See Ca7'diacle and Cardiac 
in the New E. Dictionary. In Batman upon Bartholome, lib. vii. c. 32, 


we have a description of ' Heart-quaking and the disease Cardiacle.' 
We thus learn that 'there is a double manner of Cardiacle,' called 
* Diaforetica ' and * Tremens.' Of the latter, ' sometime melancholy is the 
cause'' \ and the remedies are various * confortatives.' This is why the 
host wanted some ' triacle ' or some ale, or something to cheer him up. 

314. The Host's form of oath is amusingly ignorant ; he is con- 
fusing the two oaths ' by corpus Domini ' and ' by Christes bones,' and 
evidently regards co7-pus as a genitive case. Tyrwhitt alters the phrase 
to * By corpus domini,* which wholly spoils the humour of it. 

triacle, a restorative remedy ; see Man of Lawes Tale, B. 479. 

315. Jiioyste, new. The word retains the sense of the Lat. musteus 
and viustus. In Group H. 60, we find moysty ale spoken of as 
differing from old ale. But the most peculiar use of the word is in the 
Prologue, A. 457, where the Wyf of Bath's shoes are described as 
being moyste and ncwe. 

corny ^ strong of the corn or malt ; cf. 1. 456. Skelton calls it ' newe 
ale in cornys'; Magnificence, 782; or 'in cornes,' Elynour Rummyng, 
378. Baret's Alvearie, s.v. ^/d?, has : 'new ale in cornes, ceruisia cum 
recrementis.' It would seem that ale was thought the better for having 
dregs of malt in it. 

318. bel amy, good friend ; a common form of address in old 
French. We also find biaics douz amis, sweet good friend ; as in — 

' Chariot, Chariot, biaus doux amis '; 
Rutebuef ; La Disputoison de Chariot et du Barbier, 1. 57. 

Belamy occurs in an Early Eng. Life of St. Cecilia, MS. Ashmole 43, 

I. 161 ; and six other examples are given in the New Eng. Dictionary. 
Similar forms are beau filtz, dear son. Piers Plowman, B. vii. 162; 
beau pere, good father ; beau sire, good sir. Cf. beldame. 

321. ale-stake, \nn-s\'gr\. Speght interprets this by ' may-pole.' He 
was probably thinking of the ale-pole, such as was sometimes set up 
before an inn as a sign ; see the picture of one in Larwood and Hotten's 
History of Signboards, Plate II. But the ale-stakes of the fourteenth 
century were differently placed ; instead of being perpendicular, they 
projected horizontally from the inn, just like the bar which supports 
a painted sign at the present day. At the end of the ale-stake a large 
garland was commonly suspended, as mentioned by Chaucer himself 
(Prol. 667), or sometimes a bunch of i\y, box, or evergreen, called 
a ' bush '; whence the proverb ' good wine needs no bush,' i.e. nothing 
to indicate where it is sold ; see Hist. Signboards, pp. 2, 4, 6, 233. The 
clearest information about ale-stakes is obtained from a notice of them 
in the Liber Albus, ed. Riley, where an ordinance of the time of Richard 

II. is printed, the translation of which runs as follows: 'Also, it was 
ordained that whereas the ale-stakes, projecting in front of the taverns 
in Chepe and elsewhere in the said city, extend too far over the king's 
highways, to the impeding of riders and others, and, by reason of their 
excessive weight, to the great deterioration of the houses to which they 


are fixed, ... it was ordained, . . . that no one in future should have 
a stake bearing either his sign or leaves [i.e. a bush] extending or lying 
over the king's highway, of greater letigth than 7 feet at most,' &c. 
And, at p. 292 of the same work, note 2, Mr. Riley rightly defines an 
ale-stake to be ' the pole projecting from the house, and supporting 
a bunch of leaves.' 

The word ale-stake occurs in Chatterton's poem of /^Ella, stanza 30, 
where it is used in a manner which shews that the supposed ' Rowley ' 
did not know what it was like. See my note on this ; Essay on the 
Rowley Poems, p. xix ; and cf. note to A. 667. 

322. of a cake ; we should now say, a bit of bread ; the modern 
sense of ' cake ' is a little misleading. The old cakes were mostly made 
of dough, whence the proverb ' my cake is dough,' i. e. is not properly 
baked ; Taming of the Shrew, v. i. 145. Shakespeare also speaks of 
'cakes and ale,' Tw. Nt. ii. 3. 124. The picture of the 'Simnel Cakes' 
in Chambers' Book of Days, i. 336, illustrates Chaucer's use of the 
word in the Prologue, 1. 668. 

324. The Pardoner was so ready to tell some 'mirth or japes' that 
the more decent folks in the company try to repress him. It is a curious 
comment on the popular estimate of his character. He has, moreover, 
to refresh himself, and to think awhile before he can recollect ' some 
honest (i. e. decent) thing.' 

327, 328. The Harleian MS. has— 

' But in the cuppe wil I me bethinke 
Upon some honest tale, whil I drinke.' 

The Pardoneres Prologue. 

Title. The Latin text is copied from 1. 334 below ; it appears in the 
Ellesmere and Hengwrt MSS. The A. V. has — 'the love of money 
is the root of all evil ' ; i Tim. vi. 10. It is well worth notice that the 
novel by Morlinus, quoted in vol. iii. p. 442, as a source of the Pardoner's 
Tale, contains the expression — 'radice malorum cupiditate affecti.' 

336. billies, bulls from the pope, whom he here calls his 'liege lord'; 
see Prol. A. (^Z^, and Piers the Plowman, B. Prol. 69. See also 
Wyclif's Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 308. 

alle and so7nine, one and all. Cf. Clerkes Tale, E. 941, and the note. 

337. patente; defined by Webster as 'an official document, conferring 
aright or privilege on some person or party'; (S:c. It was so called 
because ' patent ' or open to public inspection. ' When indulgences 
came to be sold, the pope made them part of his ordinary revenue ; 
and, according to the usual way in those, and even in much later times, 
of farming the revenue, he let them out usually to the Dominican 
friars'; Massingberd, Hist. Eng. Reformation, p. 126. 

345. 'To colour my devotion with.' For saffron, MS. Karl, reads 
savore. Tyrwhitt rightly prefers the reading saffron, as 'more 


expressive, and less likely to have been a gloss.' And he adds — 
' Saffron was used to give colour as well as flavour.' For example, 
in the Babees Book, cd. Furnivall, p. 275, we read of 'capons 
that ben coloured with saffron.' And in Winter's Tale, iv. 3. 48, 
the Clown says — ' I must have saffron to colour the warden-pies.' 
Cf. Sir Thopas, B. 1920. As to the position of with, cf. Sq. Ta., 
F. 471, 641. 

346. According to Tyrwhitt, this line is, in some MSS. (including 
Camb. Dd. 4. 24. and Addit. 5140), replaced by three, viz. — 

' In euery village and in euery toun, 
* This is my terme, and shal, and euer was, 
Radix vtaloriim est aepiditas.' 

Here terme is an error for temc, a variant of theme ; so that the last 
two lines merely repeat 11. 333-4. 

347. cristal stones, evidently hollow pieces of crystal in which relics 
were kept ; so in the Prologue, A. 700, we have — 

' And in a glas he hadde pigges bones.' 

348. doutes, rags, bits of cloth. ' The origin of the veneration for 
relics may be traced to Acts, xix. 12. Hence clouts, or cloths, are 
among the Pardoner's stock' ; note in Bell's edition. 

349. Reliks. In the Prologue, we read that he had the Virgin 
Mary's veil and a piece of the sail of St. Peter's ship. Below, we have 
mention of the shoulder-bone of a holy Jew's sheep, and of a miraculous 
mitten. See Heywood's impudent plagiarism from this passage in 
his description of a Pardoner, as printed in the note to 1. 701 of 
Dr. Morris's edition of Chaucer's Prologue. See also a curious list of 
relics in Chambers' Book of Days, i. 587 ; and compare the humorous 
descriptions of the pardoner and his wares in Sir David Lyndesay's 
Satyre of the Three Estates, 11. 2037-2 121. Chaucer probably here 
took several hints from Boccaccio's Decamerone, Day 6, Nov. 10, 
wherein Frate Cipolla produces many very remarkable relics to the 
public gaze. See also the list of relics in Political, Religious, and 
Love Poems, ed. Furnivall (E. E.T. S.), pp. xxxii, 126-9. 

850. latoun. The word latten is still in use in Devon and the 
North of England for plate tin, but as Halliwell remarks, that is not 
the sense of latoun in our older writers. It was a kind of mixed metal, 
somewhat resembling brass both in its nature and colour, but still 
more like pinchbeck. It was used for helmets (Rime of Sir Thopas, 
B. 2067), lavers (P. PL Crede, 196), spoons (Nares), sepulchral 
memorials (Way in Prompt. Parv.), and other articles. Todd, in his 
Illustrations of Chaucer, p. 350, remarks that the escutcheons on the 
tomb of the Black Prince are of laton over-gilt, in accordance with the 
Prince's instructions; see Nichols's Royal Wills, p. 67. He adds — 
' In our old Church Inventories a cross of laton frequently occurs.' 
See Prol. A. 699, and the note. I here copy the description of this 
metal given in Batman upon Bartholom^ ; Hb. xvi. c. 5. ' Of Laton. 


Laton is called Auricalcum, and hath that name, for, though it be 
brasse or copper, yet it shineth as gold without, as Isidore saith ; for 
brasse is calco in Greeke. Also laton is hard as brasse or copper ; 
for by medling of copper, of tinne, and of auripigment [orpiraent] and 
with other mettal, it is brought in the fire to the colour of gold, as 
Jsido7e saith. Also it hath colour and likenesse of gold, but not the 

351. The expression 'holy Jew' is remarkable, as the usual feehng 
in the middle ages was to regard all Jews with abhorrence. It is 
suggested, in a note to Bell's edition, that it ' must be understood of 
some Jew before the Incarnation.' Perhaps the Pardoner wished it to 
be understood that the sheep was once the property of Jacob ; this 
would help to give force to 1. 365. Cp. Gen. xxx. 

The best comment on the virtues of a sheep's shoulder-bone is 
afforded by a passage in the Personcs Tale (De Ira), I. 602, where we 
find — ' Sweringe sodeynly withoute avysement is eek a sinne. But lat us 
go now to thilke horrible swering of adiuracioun and coniuracioun, as 
doon thise false enchauntours or nigromanciens in bacins ful of water, 
or in a bright swerd, in a cercle, or in a fyr, or in a shitlder-boon of 
a sheep'' \ «&:c. Cf. also a curious passage in Trevisa's tr. of Higden's 
Polychronicon, lib. i. cap. do, which shews that it was known among 
the Flemings who had settled in the west of Wales. He tells us that, 
by help of a bone of a wether's right shoulder, from which the flesh had 
been boiled (not roasted) away, they could tell what was being done in 
far countries, * tokens of pees and of werre, the staat of the reeme, 
sleynge of men, and spousebreche.' Selden, in his notes to song 5 of 
Drayton's Polyolbion, gives a curious instance of such divination, 
taken from Giraldus, Itin. i. cap. 1 1 ; and a writer in the Retrospective 
Review, Feb. 1854, p. 109, says it is 'similar to one described by 
\Vm. de Rubruquis as practised among the Tartars.' And see spade- 
bone in Nares. Cf. Notes and Queries, i S. ii. 20. 

In Part I. of the Records of the Folk-lore Society is an article by Mr. 
Thoms on the subject of divination by means of the shoulder-bone of 
a sheep. He shews that it was still practised in the Scottish Highlands 
down to the beginning of the present century, and that it is known in 
Greece. He further cites some passages concerning it from some scarce 
books ; and ends by saying — ' let me refer any reader desirous of know- 
ing more of this wide-spread form of divination to Sir H. Ellis's edition 
of Brand's Popular Antiquities, iii. 179, ed. 1842, and to much curious 
information respecting Spafidamancia, as it is called by Hartlieb, and 
an analogous species of divination ex anserino sterno, to Grimm's 
Deutsche Mythologie, 2nd ed. p. 1067.' 

355. The sense is — ' which any snake has bitten or stung.' The 
reference is to the poisonous effects of the bite of an adder or venomous 
snake. The word luorm is used by Shakespeare to describe the asp 
whose bite was fatal to Cleopatra ; and it is sometimes used to describe 
a dragon of the largest size. In Icelandic, the term ' mi^ar'Ssormr,' 


lit. worm of the middle-earth, signifies a great sea-serpent encompassing 
the entire world. 

363. Fastinge. This word is spelt with a final e in all seven MSS. ; 
and as it is emphatic and followed by a slight pause, perhaps the final e 
should be pronounced. Cp. A. S.fcestcnde, the older form of the pre- 
sent participle. Otherwise, the first foot consists of but one syllable. 

366. For hclcih, MS. HI. has keltth, i. e. cooleth. 

379. The final e in siinie must not be elided ; it is preserved by the 
caesura. Besides, c is only elided before // in the case of certain words. 

387. assotle, absolve. In Michelet's Life of Luther, tr. by W. 
Hazlitt, chap, ii, there is a very similar passage concerning Tetzel, the 
Dominican friar, whose shameless sale of indulgences roused Luther 
to his famous denunciations of the practice. Tetzel ' went about from 
town to town, with great display, pomp, and expense, hawking the 
commodity [i.e. the indulgences] in the churches, in the public streets, 
in taverns and ale-houses. He paid over to his employers as little 
as possible, pocketing the balance, as was subsequently proved against 
him. The faith of the buyers diminishing, it became necessary to 
exaggerate to the fullest extent the merit of the specific. . . . The 
intrepid Tetzel stretched his rhetoric to the very uttermost bounds 
of amplification. Daringly piling one lie upon another, he set forth, 
in reckless display, the long list of evils which this panacea could 
cure. He did not content himself with enumerating known sins ; 
he set his foul imagination to work, and invented crimes, infamous 
atrocities, strange, unheard of, unthought of; and when he saw his 
auditors stand aghast at each horrible suggestion, he would calmly 
repeat the burden of his song : — Well, all this is expiated the moment 
your money chinks in the pope's chest.' This was in the year 1517. 

390. An huttdred Jiuifk. A mark was worth about 13^'. 4^., and 100 
marks about ;!^66 I'^s. i,d. In order to make allowance for the 
difference in the value of money in that age, we must at least multiply 
by ten ; or we may say in round numbers, that the Pardoner made 
at least ^700 a year. We may contrast this with Chaucer's own pen- 
sion of 20 marks, granted him in 1367, and afterwards increased till, 
in the very last year of his life, he received in all, according to Sir Harris 
Nicolas, as much as £(ii \is. 4d. Even then his income did not quite 
attain to the 100 marks which the Pardoner gained so easily. 

397. dotvve, a pigeon ; lit. a dove. See a similar line in the Milleres 
Tale, A. 3258. 

402. waw^/)/, especially, in particular; cf. Kn. Ta. 410 (A. 1068). 

406. blakeberied. The line means — ' Though their souls go a-black- 
berrying'; i.e. wander wherever they like. This is a well-known 
crux, which all the editors have given up as unintelligible. I have 
been so fortunate as to obtain the complete solution of it, which 
was printed in Notes and Queries, 4 S. x. 222, xii. 45, and again 
in my preface to the C-text of Piers the Plowman, p. Ixxxvii. The 
simple explanation is that, by a grammatical construction which was 


probably due (as will be shewn) to an error, the verb go could 
be combined with what was apparently a past participle, in such 
a manner as to give the participle the force of a verbal substantive. 
In other words, instead of saying * he goes a-hunting,* our forefathers 
sometimes said ' he goes a-hunted.' The examples of this use are at 
least seven. The clearest is in Piers Plowman, C. ix. 13S, where we 
read of* folk that gon a-begged,' i.e. folk that go a-begging. In Chaucer, 
we not only have 'goon a-begged,' Frank. Tale, F. 1580, and the 
instance in the present passage, but yet a third example in the Wyf of 
Bath's Tale, Group D. 354, where we have 'goon a-caterwawed,* 
with the sense of 'to go a-caterwauling '; and it is a fortunate circum- 
stance that in two of these cases the idiomatic forms occur at the end of 
a line, so that the rime has preserved them from being tampered with. 
Gower (Conf. Amant. bk. i. ed. Chalmers, pp. 32, 33, or ed. Paul!, 
i. 1 10) speaks of a king of Hungary riding out ' in the month of May,' 
adding — 

'This king with noble purueiance 

Hath for him-selfe his chare \car\ arayed, 

Wherein he wolde ryde anuiyed,' iSic. 

that is, wherein he wished to ride a-Maying. Again (in bk. v, ed. 
Chalmers, p. 124, col. 2, or ed. Pauli, ii. 132) we read of a drunken 
priest losing his way : — 

' This prest was dronke, and goih a-strayecV', 
i.e. he goes a-straying, or goes astray. 

The explanation of this construction I take to be this ; the -^^ was 
not really a sign of the past participle, but a corruption of the ending 
'eth (A. S. -a^) which is sometimes found at the end of a verbal sub- 
stantive. Hence it is that, in the passage from Piers Plowman above 
quoted, one of the best and earliest MSS. actually reads ' folk that gon 
a-beggeth.' And again, in another passage (P. PI., C. ix. 246) is the 
phrase 'gon abrybeth,' or, in some MSS., *gon abrybed,' i.e. go 
a-bribing or go a-thieving, since Mid. Eng. briben often means to rob. 
This form is clearly an imitation of the form a-htinteth in the old 
phrase gon a-hiinieth or riden an honieih, used by Robert of Gloucester 
(Specimens of English, ed. Morris and Skeat, p. 14, 1. 387) : — 

' As he rod an honteth, and par-auntre [h]is hors spurnde.' 

Now this honteth is the dat. case of a substantive, viz. of the A. S. 
hiiniad or huniocf. This substantive would easily be mistaken for 
a part of a verb, and, particularly, for the past participle of a verb ; 
just as many people at this day are quite unable to distinguish between 
the true verbal substantive and the present participle in -ing. This 
mistake once established, the ending -ed would be freely used after 
the verbs ^c? or ride. In D. 1 778, we even find,;^^ walked, without a. 
The result is .that the present phrase, hitherto so puzzling, is a mere 
variation of ' gon a blake-berying,' i.e. ' go a-gathering blackberries,' 
a humorous expression for ' wander wherever they please.' A not very 

if. if, -if. 
* * 


dissimilar expression occurs in the proverbial saying — 'his wits are 
gone a-wool-gathering.' 

The Pardoner says, in effect, ' I promise them full absolution ; 
however, when they die and are buried, it matters little to me in what 
direction their souls go.' 

407. Tyrwhitt aptly adduces a parallel passage from the Romaunt 
of the Rose, 1. 5763 (or 1. 5129 in the French) — 
' For oft good predicacioun 
Cometh of evel entencioun.' 
'Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife '; Phil. i. 15. 

413. In Piers Plowman (B-text), v. 87, it is said of Envy that— 

' Eche a worde that he warpe " was of an addres tonge.' 

Cf. Rom. iii. 13 ; Ps. cxl. 3. 

440, /or I teche, because I teach, by my teaching. 

441. Wilful poueric signifies voluntary poverty. This is well illus- 
trated by the following lines concerning Christ in Piers Plowman, 
B. XX. 48, 49: — 

' Syth he that wroughte al the worlde • was wilfullich nedy, 
Ne neuer non so nedy • ne pouerer deyde.' 

Several examples occur in Richardson's Dictionary in which wilfully 
has the sense of willingly or TJoluniarily. Thus—' If they wylfully 
would renounce the sayd place and put them in his grace, he wolde 
vtterlye pardon theyr trespace'; Fabyan's Chronicle, c. 114. It even 
means ^/m//K; thus in Wyclifs Bible, Acts xxi. 17, we find, 'britherin 
resseyuyden vs wilfulli.^ Speaking of palmers, Speght says — ' The 
pilgrim travelled at his own charge, the palmer professed wilful 

The word wilful still means willing in Warwickshire ; see Eng, 
Dialect Soc. Gloss. C. 6. 

445. The context seems to imply that some of the apostles made 
baskets. So in Piers Plowman, B. xv. 285, we read of St. Paul — 

' Poule, after his prechyng • pa7tyc7-s he made.' 
Yet in Acts xviii. 3 we only read that he wrought as a tent-maker. 
However, it was St. Paul who set the example of labouring with his 
hands ; and, in imitation of him, we find an early example of basket- 
making by St. Arsenius, ' who, before he turned hermit, had been the 
tutor of the emperors Arcadius and Honorius,' and who is represented 
in a fresco in the Campo Santo at Pisa, by Pietro Laurati, as ' weaving 
baskets of palm-leaves'; whilst beside him another hermit is cutting 
wooden spoons, and another is fishing. See Mrs. Jameson's Sacred and 
Legendary Art, 3rd ed. ii. 757. 

Note that basket tes is trisyllabic, as in Palladius on Husbandry, 
bk. xii. 1. 307. 

448. The best description of the house-to-house system of begging, 
as adopted by the mendicant friars, is near the beginning of the 

LI. 407-474-] THE PARDONERES TALE. 275 

Sompnour's Tale, D. 1738. They went in pairs to the farm-houses, 
begging a bushel of wheat, or malt, or rye, or a piece of cheese or 
brawn, or bacon or beef, or even a piece of an old blanket. Nothing 
seems to have come amiss to them. 

450. See Prologue, A. 255 ; and cf. the description of the poor 
widow at the beginning of the Nonne Prestes Tale, B. 401 1. 

The Pardoneres Tale. ' 

For some account of the source of this Tale, see vol. iii. p. 439. The 
account which I here quote as the 'Italian' text is that contained in 
Novella Ixxxii of the Libro di Novelle. 

Observe also the quotations from Pope Innocent given in vol. iii. 
pp. 444, 445. To which may be added, that Chaucer here frequently 
quotes from his Persones Tale, which must have been written 
previously. Compare 11. 475, 482, 504, 529, 558, 590, 631-650, with 

I. 591, 836, 819, 820, 822, 793, 587-593. 

463. In laying the scene in Flanders, Chaucer probably followed an 
original which is now lost. Andrew Borde, in his amusing Introduction 
of Knowledge, ch. viii, says: — ' Flaunders is a plent>'full countre of 
fyshe & fleshe & wyld fowle. Ther shal a man be clenly serued at his 
table, & well ordred and vsed for meate & drynke & lodgyng. The 
countre is playn, & somwhat sandy. The people be gentyl, but the 
men be great drynkers ; and many of the women be vertuous and wel 
dysposyd.' He describes the Fleming as saying — 

* I am a Fleming, what for all that, 
Although I wyll be dronken other whyles as a rat ? 
" Buttermouth Flemyng" men doth me call,' &c. 

464. haiinteden, followed after ; cf. note to 1. 547. The same 
expression occurs in The Tale of Beryn, a spurious (but not ill-told) 
addition to the Canterbury Tales : — 

^ Foly, I haunted it ever, ther myght no man me let'; 1. 2319. 

473. grisly, terrible, enough to make one shudder. It is exactly the 
right word. The mention of these oaths reminds us of the admission 
of my Uncle Toby in Sterne's Tristram Shandy, ch. xi, that ' our 
armies swore terribly in Flanders.^ 

474. to-tere, tear in pieces, dismember. Cf. to-renie in B. 3215; 
see note on p. 229. Chaucer elsewhere says — 'For Cristes sake 
ne swereth nat so sinfully, in dismembringe of Crist, by soule, herte, 
bones, and body ; for certes it semeth, that ye thinke that the cursede 
lewes ne dismembred nat ynough the preciouse persone of Crist, but 
ye dismembre him more'; Persones Tale [De Ira), I. 591. And see 

II. 629-659 below. 

*And than Seint Johan seid — "These [who are thus tormented in 

T 2 


hell] ben thei that sweren bi Goddes membris, as bi his nayles and 
other his membris, and thei thus dismembrid God in horrible swerynge 
bi his limmes '; Vision of Wm. Staunton (a. D. 1409), quoted in Wright's 
St. Patrick's Purgatory, p. 146. In the Plowman's Tale (Chaucer, 
ed. 1561, fol. xci) we have — 

' And Cristes membres al to-tere 
On roode as he were newe yrent.' 
Barclay, in his Ship of Fools (ed. Jamieson, i. 97), says — 
' Some sweryth armes, naylys, herte, and body, 
Terynge our Lord worse than the Jowes hym arayed.' 
And again (ii. 130) he complains of swearers who crucify Christ afresh, 
swearing by ' his holy membres,' by his ' blode,' by ' his face, his herte, 
or by his croune of thorne,' &c. See also, the Ayenbite of Inwyt, 
p. 64 ; Political, &c.. Poems, ed. Furnivall, p. 193 ; Wyclifs Works, 
ed. Matthew, pp. 60, 278, 499. Todd, in his Illustrations of Chaucer, 
p. 264, quotes (from an old MS.) the old second commandment in the 
following form : — 

'IL Thi goddes name and b[e]autte 
Thou shalt not take for wel nor wo ; 
Dismembre hym not that on rode-tre 
For the was mad boyth blak and bio." 

477. tovibesteres, female dancers. * Sir Perdicas, whom that kinge 
Alysandre made to been his heire in Grece, was of no ki«ges blod ; 
his dame [jnothej-] was a to?//bystere ' ; Testament of Love, Book ii. 
ed. 1 561, fol. ccxcvi b. 

Tombestere is the feminine form ; the A. S. spelling would be iionb- 
estre ; the masc. form is the A. S. tianbet-e, which is glossed by saltaior, 
i.e. a dancer; the verb is tumbimi, to dance, used of Herodias' 
daughter in the A. S. version of Mark, vi. 22. The medieval idea of 
iiimbli7ig was, that the lady stood on her hands with her heels in the 
air; see Strutt, Sports, &c. bk. iii. c. 5. 

On the feminine termination -ster (formerly -estre, or -stre) see the 
remarks in Marsh's Lectures on the English Language, printed in (the 
so-called) Smith's Student's Manual of the English Language, ed. 1862, 
pp. 207, 208, with an additional note at p. 217. Marsh's remarks are, 
in this case, less clear than usual. He shews that the termination was 
not always used as a feminine, and that, in fact, its force was early lost. 
It is, however, merely a question of chronology. That the termination 
was originally feminine in Anglo-Saxon, is sufficiently proved by the 
A. S. version of the Gospels. There we find the word loitega frequently 
used in the sense ol prophet \ but, in one instance, where it is necessary 
to express y^^ feminine, we find this accomplished by the use of this 
very termination. 'And anna waes itniegystre (another MS. un/e' 
gesfre) '; i. e. and Anna was 2l prophetess, Luke, ii. 36. Similar instances 
might easily be multiplied; see Dr. Morris's Hist. Outlines of Eng. 
Accidence, pp. 89, 90. Thus, wasshcsti'en (pi.) is used as the trans- 

LI. 477-488.] THE PARDONERES TALE. 277 

lation of lotriccs ; Old Eng. Homilies, ed. Morris, ii. 57. But it is also 
true that, in the fourteenth century, the feminine force of this termina- 
tion was becoming very weak, so that, whilst in P. Plowman, B. v. 306, 
we find ' Beton the brewestere ' applied to a female brewer, we cannot 
thence certainly conclude that ' brewestere ' was always feminine at 
that period. On the other hand, we may point to one word, spinster^ 
which has remained feminine to this very day. 

Dr. Morris remarks that toiiibestci-e is a hybrid word ; in which 
I believe that he has been misled by the spelling. It is a pure native 
word, from the A. S. iuvibtan, but the scribes have turned it from 
tumbesiere into iovibestere, by confusion with the French toviber. Yet 
even the Fr. toviber was once spelt tunibcr (Burguy, Roquefort), being, 
in fact, a word of Germanic origin. An acrobat can still be called 
a tumbler : we find ' rope-dancers and tumblers ' in Locke, Conduct of 
the Understanding, § 4. Indeed, the Cambridge MS. has here the true 
spelling tu/nbesterls, whilst the Corpus, Petworth, and Lansdowne MSS. 
have the variations tomblistcres and tomblestcrs. The A. S. masc. 
form tumberc occurs in /Elfric's Vocabulary. 

As to the source of the suffix -ster^ it is really a compound suffix, due 
to composition of the Aryan suffixes -es and -ter- ; cf. Lat. mag-ts-ter, 
7nin-is-ter, poet-as-ter. The feminine use is peculiar to Anglo-Saxon 
and to some other Teutonic languages. 

478. fruytesteres, female sellers of fruit ; see note to last line. 

479. zuafereres, sellers of confectionery, confectioners. The feminine 
form wafrestre occurs in Piers Plowman, v. 641. From Beaumont 
and Fletcher we learn that * wafer-women ' were often employed in 
amorous embassies, as stated in Nares' Glossarj', q.v. 

483. holy writ. In the margin of the MSS. E. Hn. Cp. Pt. and 
HI. is the note — ' Nolite inebriari vino, in quo est luxuria,' quoted from 
the Vulgate version of Eph. v. 18. See vol. iii. p. 444. 

487. Cp. Ln. have here two additional spurious lines. Cp. reads — 

' So drunke he was, he nyste what he wrought, 
Attd therfore sore repente him oughte. 
Heroudes, who-so wole the stories seche, 
Tlier may ye lerne and by ensample teche^ 

Of the second line. Dr. Furnivall remarks — ' Besides being a line of 
only 4 measures, it is foolish — how could Lot in the grave repent 
him ? Both lines [those in italics] interrupt the flow of the story, and 
weaken the instances brought forward.' He adds — * None of our best 
MSS. have these spurious lines.' 

They evidently arose from the stupidity of some scribe, who did not 
understand that soghfe is here the pt. t. subj., meaning 'were to seek.* 
He therefore ' corrected ' Chaucer's grammar by writing ivol for wel 
and seche for soghte ; and he then had to make up two more lines to 
hide the alteration. 

488. ' Herod, (as may be seen by any one) who would consult the 


" stories " carefully.' The Harleian MS. has the inferior reading story\ 
but the reference is particular, not vague. Peter Comestor (died A, D. 
1 198) was the author of an Historia Scholastica, on which account he was 
called ' the maister of stories,' or * clerk of the stories,' as explained in 
my note to Piers Plowman, B. vii. ']'>). The use of the plural is due to 
the fact that the whole Historia Scholastica, which is a sort of epitome 
of the Bible, with notes and additions, is divided into sections, each 
of which is also called ' Historia.' The account of Herod occurs, 
of course, in the section entitled Historia Evangelica, cap. Ixxii ; De 
decollatione ioannis. Cf. Matt, xiv ; Mark vi. And see vol. iii. p. 444. 

492. Senek, Seneca. The reference appears to be, as pointed out 
by Tyrwhitt, to Seneca's Letters ; Epist. Ixxxiii : ' Extende in plurcs 
dies ilium ebrii habitum : numquid de furore dubitabis ? nunc quoque 
non est minor, sed brevior.' 

496. ' Except that madness, when it has come upon a man of evil 
nature, lasts longer than does a fit of drunkenness.' See Shrew in 
Trench, Select Glossary. 

499. 'First cause of our misfortune'; alluding to the Fall of Adam. 
See 1. 505. 

50L boght ns agayn^ redeemed us ; a translation of the Latin 
redeviit. Hence we find Christ called, in Middle English, the 
Ayndyer. ' See now how dere he [Christ] boughte man, that he made 
after his owne ymage, and how dere he ayfiboght us, for the grete love 
that he hadde to us'; Sir J. Maundeville, Prologue to his Voiage 
(Specimens of Eng^. 1298-1393, p. 165). See 1. 766 below. 

504. Cf. Pers. Tale, L 819. 

505. Here, in the margin of MS. E. Hn. Cp. Pt. HI., is a quotation 
from 'Hieronymus contra Jovinianum' (i.e. from St. Jerome): 
'Quamdiu ieiunauit Adam, in Paradiso fuit ; comedit et eiectus est; 
eiectus, statim duxit uxorem.' See Hieron. contra Jov. lib. ii. c. 15; 
ed. Migne, ii. 305. 

510. defended, forbidden. Even Milton has it ; see P. Lost, xi. 86. 
See also I. 590 below. 

512. 'O gluttony! it would much behove us to complain of thee!' 
See vol. iii. pp. 444, 445. The quotation 'Noli auidus' (iii. 445) is 
from the close of Ecclus. xxxvii. 

517. Here Chaucer is thinking of a passage in Jerome, which also 
occurs in John of Salisbury's Policraticus, lib. viii. c. 6. In such 
cases, Chaucer consulted Jerome himself, rather than his copyist, as 
might be shewn. I therefore quote from the former. 

' Propter breuem gulae uoluptatem, terrae lustrantur et maria : et ut 
mulsum uinum preciosusque cibus fauces notras transeat, totius uitae 
opera desudamus.' — Hieronymus, contra louinianum, lib. ii.; in Epist. 
Hieron. Basil. 1524, t. ii. p. 76. 

At the same time, he had an eye to the passage in Pope Innocent, 
quoted in vol. iii. p. 445. ' The shorte throte ' answers to * Tarn breuis 
est,' tS:c. 

LI. 492-549-] THE PARDONERES TALE. 279 

522. In the margin of MSS. E. and Hn. is written the quotation — '' 
'Esca ventri, et venter escis. Deus autem et hunc et illam destruet.' 
For ilhvn, the usual reading of the Vulgate is has ; see i Cor. vi. 13. 

526. u'hyte and rede, white wine and red wine ; see note to Piers 
Plowman, B. prol. 228, and the note to B. 4032 above, p. 249. 

527. Again from Jerome (see note to 1. 517). * Oualis [est] ista 
refectio post ieiunium, cum pridianis epulis distendimur, et guttur 
nostrum meditatorium efficitur latftJiaru//iJ — Hicron. c. louin. lib. ii. ; 
in Epist. Hieron. Basil. 1524, t. ii. p. 78. 

529. In the margin of MSS. E. and Hn. is written — *Ad Philipenses, 
capitulo tertio.' See Phil. iii. 18, Ci. Pers. Tale, I. 820. 
534. See the quotation in vol. iii. p. 445. 

537. 'How great toil and expense (it is) to provide for thee!' 
Chaucer is here addressing man's appetite for delicacies. Cf. fond, 
Non. Pr. Tale, B. 4019. 

538. Sec the quotation in vol. iii. p. 445. 

There is a somewhat similar passage in John of Salisbury, as 
follows : — 

' Multiplicantur fercula, cibi alii aliis farciuntur, condiuntur haec 
illis, et in iniuriam naturae, innatum relinquere, et alienum coguntur 
afferre saporem. Conficiuntur et salsamcnta . . . Coquorum solici- 
tudo fervet arte multiplici,' iSic- Joh. Salisburiensis, Policraticus, lib. 
viii. c. 6. 

539. There is here an allusion to the famous disputes in scholastic 
philosophy between the Realists and Nominalists. To attempt any 
explanation of their language is to become lost in subtleties of 
distinction. It would seem however that the Realists maintained 
that everything possesses a substance, which is inherent in itself, and 
distinct from the accidents or outward phenomena which the thing 
presents. According to them, the form, smell, taste, colour, of anything 
are merely accidents, and might be changed without affecting the 
substatice itself. See the excellent article on Substance in the Engl. 
Cyclopaedia ; also that on Nominalists. Cf. Wyclif s Works, ed. 
Matthew, p. 526. 

According to Chaucer, then, or rather, according to Pope Inno- 
cent III., (of all people), the cooks who toil to satisfy man's appetite 
change the nature of the things cooked so effectual!y as to confound 
substance with accident. Translated into plain language, it means 
that those who partook of the meats so prepared, could not, by means 
of their taste and smell, form any precise idea as to what they were 
eating. The art is not lost. Cf. Troil. iv. 1505. 

547. hatmteth, practises, indulges in; cf. 1. 464. In the margin of 
MSS. E. and Hn. is written — ' Qui autem in deliciis est, viuens mortuus 
est.' This is a quotation from the \'ulgate version of i Tim. v. 6, but 
with Qui for quae, and mortuus for inortua. 

549. In the margin of MSS. E. and Hn. is written — 'Luxuriosa res 
vinum, et contumeliosa ebrietas.' The Vulgate version of Prov. xx. i 


agrees with this nearly, but has tumultuosa for contumeliosa. This is 
of course the text to which Chaucer refers. And see note to the 
parallel passage at B. 771-7. The variant contumeliosa occurs in the 
text as quoted by St. Jerome, Contra Jovinianum, lib. ii. 10 (Kdppel). 

654. He means that the drunkard's stertorous breathing seems to 
repeat the sound of the word Sainpsoun. The word was probably 
chosen for the sake of its nasal sounds, to imitate a sort of grunt. 
Perhaps we should here pronounce the m and « as in French, but with 
exaggerated emphasis. So also in 1. 572. 

655. See note to the Monkes Tale, B. 3245. In Judges, xiii. 4, 7, the 
command to drink no wine is addressed, not to Samson, but to his 
mother. Of Samson himself it is said that he was 'a Nazarite,' which 
implies the same thing ; see Numbers, vi. 3, 5. 

658. sepulture, burial; see Pers. Tale, I. 822. 

561. In Chaucer's Tale of I^Ielibeus (B. 2383) we find— 'Thou shalt 
also eschewe the conseiling of folk that been dronkelewe ; for they ne 
can no conseil hyde ; for Salomon seith, Ther is no privetee ther-as 
regneth dronkenesse '; and see B. 776. The allusion is to Prov. 
xxxi. 4 : ' Noli regibus, O Lamuel, noli regibus dare uinum ; quia 
nullum secretum est ubi regnat ebrietas.' This last clause is quite 
different from that in our own version ; which furnishes, perhaps, 
a reason why the allusion here intended has not been perceived by 
previous editors. 

563. «rt;//r/j', especially. Tynvhitt's note is as follows: 'According 
to the geographers, Lepe was not far from Cadiz. This wine, of what- 
ever sort it may have been, was probably much stronger than the 
Gascon wines, usually drunk in England. La Rochelle and Bordeaux 
(1. 571), the two chief ports of Gascony, were both, in Chaucer's time, 
part of the English dominions. 

* Spanish wines might also be more alluring upon account of their 
great rarity. Among the Orders of the Royal Household, in 1604, is 
the following (MS. Harl. 293, fol. 162) : "And whereas, in tymes past, 
Spanish wines, called Sacke, were little or noe whit used in our courte, 
and that in later years, though not of ordinary allowance, it was thought 
convenient that noblemen . . . might have a boule or glas, &c. We 
understanding that it is now used as common drinke . . . reduce the 
allowance to xii. gallons a day for the court," ' &c. Several regulations 
to be observed by London vintners are mentioned in the Liber Albus, 
ed. Riley, pp. 614-618. Amongst them is — 'Item, that white wine of 
Gascoigne, of la Rochele, of Spain, or other place, shall not be put in 
cellars with Rhenish wines.' See also note to 1. 565. 

564. To selle, for sale ; the true gerund, of which to is, in Anglo- 
Saxon, the sign. So also 'this house to lef is the correct old idiom, 
needing no such alteration as some would make. Cf. Morris, Hist. 
Outlines of Eng. Accidence, sect. 290, subsect. 4. Fish Street leads out 
of Lower Thames Street, close to the North end of London Bridge. 
The Harleian MS. alone reads Fleet Street^ which is certainly wrong. 

LI. 554-579.] THE PARDONERES TALE. 281 

Considering that Thames Street is especially mentioned as a street 
for vintners (Liber Albus, p. 614), and that Chaucer's own father was 
a Thames Street vintner, there can be little doubt about this matter. The 
poet is here speaking from his own knowledge ; a consideration which 
gives the present passage a peculiar interest. Chcpe is Cheapside. 

565. This is a fine touch. The poet here tells us that some of this 
strong Spanish wine used to find its way mysteriously into other wines ; 
not (he ironically suggests) because the vintners ever mixed their wines, 
but because the vines of Spain notoriously grew so close to those of 
Gascony that it was not possible to keep them apart ! Crepeih subtilly= 
finds its way mysteriously. Observe the humour in the word growings 
which expresses that the mixture of wines must be due to the proxi- 
mity of the vines producing them in the vineyards, not to any accidental 
proximity of the casks containing them in the vintners' cellars. In fact, 
the different kinds of wine were to be kept in different cellars, as the 
Regulations in the Liber Albus (pp. 615-618) shew. 'Item, that no 
Taverner shall put Rhenish wine and \\'hite wine in a cellar together. 
' Item, that new wines shall not be put in cellars with old wines.' 'Item, 
that White wine of Gascoigne, of la Rochele, of Spain, or other place 
shall not be put in cellars with Rhenish wines.' ' Item, that white wine 
shall not be sold for Rhenish wine.' * Item, that no one shall expose 
for sale wines counterfeit or mixed, made by himself or by another, 
under pain of being set upon the pillory.' But pillories have vanished, 
and all such laws are obsolete. 

570. * He is in Spain'; i.e. he is, as it were, transported thither. 
He imagines he has never left Cheapside, yet is far from knowing 
where he is, as we should say. 

57 L ' Not at Rochelle,' where the wines are weak. 

579. ' The death of Attila took place in 453. The commonly received 
account is that given by Jornandes, that he died by the bursting of 
a blood-vessel on the night of his marriage with a beautiful maiden, 
whom he added to his many other wives ; some, with a natural 
suspicion, impute it to the hand of his bride. Priscus observes, that 
no one ever subdued so many countries in so short a time. . . . Jorn- 
andes, De Rebus Geticis, and Priscus, Excerpta de Legationibus, 
furnish the best existing materials for the history of .Attila. For 
modem compilations, see Buat, Histoire des Peuples de I'Europe ; 
De Guignes, Hist, des Huns; and Gibbon, capp. xxxiv and xxxv'; 
English Cyclopaedia. And see Amedee Thierry, Histoire d'Attila. 

Mr. Jephson (in Bell's Chaucer) quotes the account of Attila's death 
given by Paulus Diaconus, Gest. Rom. lib. xv : ' Qui reuersus ad 
proprias sedes, supra plures quas habebat uxores, valde decoram, 
indicto nomine, sibi in matrimonium iunxit. Ob cuius nuptias profusa 
conuiuia exercens, dum tantum uini quantum nunquam antea insimul 
bibisset, cum supinus quiesceret, eruptione sanguinis, qui ei de naribus 
solitus erat effluere, sufifocatus et extinctus est.' 

The older account in Jornandes, Ue Rebus Geticis, § 82, is of more 


interest. * Qui [Attila], ut Priscus historicus refert, extinctionis suae 
tempore puellam, Ildico nomine, decoram valde, sibi in matrimonium 
post innumerabiles uxores, vt mos est gentis illius, socians : eiusque 
in nuptiis magna hilaritate resolutus, vino somnoque grauatus, resu- 
pinus iacebat ; redundansque sanguis, qui ei solite do naribus effluebat, 
dum consuetis meatibus impeditur, itinere ferali faucibus illapsus eum 

585. Lamucl, i.e. King Lemuel, mentioned in Prov. xxxi. i, q. v. ; 
not to be confused, says Chaucer, with Samuel. The allusion is to 
Prov. xxxi. 4, 5 ; and not (as Mr. Wright suggests) to Prov, xxiii. In 
fact, in the margin of MSS. E. and Hn. is written * Noli uinum dare,' 
words found in Prov. xxxi. 4, See note to 1. 561. 

590. Compare Pers. Tale, L 793. 

59L Hasivd, gambling. In the margin of MSS. E. and Hn. is 
written — ' Policratici libro primo ; Mendaciorum et periuriarum mater 
est Alea.' This shews that the line is a quotation from lib. i. [cap. 5] 
of the Polycraticus of John of Salisbury, bishop of Chartres, who died 
in 1 180. See some account of this work in Prof. Morley's Eng. 
Writers, iii. iSo. * In the first book, John treats of temptations and 
duties and of vanities, such as hunting, dice, music, mimes and 
minstrelsy, magic and soothsaying, prognostication by dreams and 
astrology.' See also the account of gaming, considered as a branch 
of Avarice in the Ayenbyte of Inwyt, ed. Morris, pp. 45, 46. 

595. Cf. ' Nonne satis improbata est cuiusque artis exercitatio, qua 
quanto quisque doctior, tanto nequior ? Aleator quidem omnis hie est.' — 
Job. Sarisb. Polycrat. i. 5. 

603. Stilbon, It should rather be Chilon. Tyrwhitt remarks— 
'John of Salisbury, from whom our author probably took this story 
and the following, calls him Chiloti ; Polycrat. lib. i. c. 5. " Chilon 
Lacedaemonius, iungendae societatis causa missus Corinthum, duces 
et seniores populi ludentes inuenit in alea. Infecto itaque negotio 
reuersus est [dicens se nolle gloriam Spartanorum, quorum uirtus 
constructo Byzantio clarescebat, hac maculare infamia, ut dicerentur 
cum aleatoribus contraxisse societatem]." Accordingly, in ver. 12539 
[I. 605], MS. C. I [i.e. MS. Camb. Univ. Lib. Dd. 4. 24] reads very 
rightly Laccdomyc instead of Calidone, the common reading [of the 
old editions]. Our author has used ht{ore Lacedomie {or Lacedae>/ton, 
v. 1 1692 [Frank. Tale, F. 13S0].' 

In the Petw. MS., the name ^///i^i?;? is explained as meaning Mercurius. 
So, in Liddell and Scott's Gk. Lexicon, we have 'ariXlicov, -ovms, 6, the 
planet Mercury, Arist. Mund. 2. 9 ; cf. Cic. Nat. D, 2. 20.' The 
original sense of the word was 'shining,' from the verb a-TiXfifiv, to glitter. 

Chaucer has given the wrong name. He was familiar with the name 
Stilbon (for Mercury), as it occurs (i) in the Epistola Valerii ad 
Rufinum, c. 27 ; (2) in the work of Martianus referred to in E. 1732 ; 
and (3) in the Anticlaudian, Distinctio quarta, c. 6. Cf. D. 671 ; E. 
1732 ; Ho. Fame, 986; Notes and Queries, 8th S. iv. 175. 

LI. 585-641.] THE PARDONERES TALE. 283 

608. The first foot has but one syllable, viz. Pley. atfe, for ai the. 
Tyrwhitt oddly remarks here, that ' atte has frequently been cor- 
rupted into ai the^ viz. in the old editions. Of course atte is rather, 
etymologically, a corruption of <?/"///<? ; Tyrwhitt probably means that 
the editors might as well have let the form atte stand. If so, he is 
quite right ; for, though etymologically a corruption, it was a recognised 
form in the fourteenth century. 

621. This story immediately follows the one quoted from John of 
Salisbury in the note to 1. 603. After ' societatem,' he proceeds : — 

* Regi quoque Demetrio, in opprobrium puerilis leuitatis, tali aurei 
a rege Parthorum dati sunt.' What Demetrius this was, we are not 
told ; perhaps it may have been Demetrius Nicator, king of Syria, who 
was defeated and taken prisoner by the I'arthians 138 B.C., and 
detained in captivity by them for ten years. This, however, is but 
a guess. Compare the story told of our own king, in Shakespeare's 
Henry V, Act i. sc. 2. 

628. To dryve the day awey, to pass the time. The same phrase 
occurs in Piers Plowman, B. prol. 224, where it is said of the labourers 
who tilled the soil that they ' dryuen forth the longe day with Diett 
vous saue, Davie emvie^ i. e. amuse themselves with singing idle songs. 

633. In the margin of MSS. E. Hn. and Pt. is the quotation 
'Nolitc omnino iurare,' with a reference (in Hn. only) to Matt. v. The 
Vulgate version of Matt. v. 34 is — 'Ego autem dico uobis, non iurare 
omnino, neque per caelum, quia thronus Dei est.' 

635. In the margin of MSS. E. Hn. Pt. is written — * leremie quarto 
lurabis in veritate, in ludicio, et lusticia'; see Jer. iv. 2. 

There are several points of resemblance between the present passage 
and one in the Persones Tale {De Ira), I. 588-594, part of which has 
been already quoted in the note to 1. 474. So also Wyclif : ' jit no man 
schulde swere, nouther for life ne dethe, no but with these thre con- 
diciones, that is, in treuthe, in dome, and in rightwisenes, as God sais 
by the prophet leremye '; Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 483. Hence one of 
the *olde bokes' mentioned in 1. 630 is the Treatise by Frfere Lorens 
from which the Persones Tale is largely taken. 

639. the Jirste table, i. e. the commandments that teach us our 
duty towards God ; those in the second table teach us our duty to our 

641. scconde heste, second commandment. Formerly, the first two 
commandments were considered as one ; the third commandment was 
therefore the second, as here. The tenth commandment was divided 
into two parts, to make up the number. See \\'yclif s treatise on ' The 
ten Comaundements '; Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 82. Thus Wyclif says— 

* The secounde maner maundement of God perteyneth to the Sone. 
Thow schalt not take the name of thi Lord God in veyn, ne))^er in 
word, nei}ier in lyvynge.' So also in Hampole's Prose Treatises, ed. 
Perry, p. 10 ; Religious Pieces in Prose and Verse, ed. Perry (E.E. T. S.), 
pp. 5, 25. See note to 1. 474 ; and cf. Pers. Tale, I. 588. 


643. rather, sooner ; because this commandment precedes those 
which relate to murder, &c. 

646. 'They that understand his commandments know this,' (S:c. 

649. Wychf says — ' P'or it is written in Ecclesiasticus, the thre and 
twenti chapitre, there he seith this : A man much sweringe schal be ful- 
filled with wickidnesse, and veniaunce schal not go away fro his hous'; 
Works, iii. 84. Chaucer here quotes the same text ; see Ecclus. xxiii. 1 1. 
And he quotes it once more, in I. 593. 

651. So Wyclif, iii. 483 — 'hit is not leeful to swere by creaturis, ne 
by Goddys bonys, sydus, naylus, ne armus, or by ony membre of Cristis 
body, as ])e moste dele of men usen.' 

Tyrwhitt says — ' his nayles, i. e. with which he was nailed to the cross. 
Sir J. ISIaundevi le, c. vii — " And thereby in the walle is the place where 
the 4 Nayles of our Lord weren hidd ; for he had 2 in his hondes, and 2 
in his feet : and one of theise the Emperoure of Constantynoble made 
a brydille to his hors, to here him in bataylle ; and thorgh vertue 
thereof he overcame his enemies," (Sec. He had said before, c. ii., that 
" on of the nayles that Crist was naylled with on the cross '' was " at 
Constantynoble ; and on in France, in the kinges chapelle." ' 

Mr. Wright adds, what is doubtless true, that these nails * were 
objects of superstition in the middle ages.' Nevertheless, I am by no 
means satisfied that these comments are to the point. I strongly 
suspect that swearers did not stop to think, nor were they at all 
particular as to the sense in which the words might be used. Here, 
for example, nails are mentioned between Jicart and blood ; in the 
quotation from Wyclif which begins this note, we find mention of 
* bones, sides, nails, and arms,' followed by ' any mfember of Christ's 
body.' Still more express is the phrase used by William Staunton 
(see note to 1. 474 above) that ' God's members' include ' his nails.' 
On the other hand, in Lewis's Life of Pecock, p. 155 [or p. 107, 
ed. 1820], is a citation from a MS. to the effect that, in the year 
1420, many men died in England 'emittendo sanguinem per iuncturas 
et per secessum, scilicet in illis partibus corporis per quas horribiliter 
iurare consueuerunt, scilicet, per oculos Christi, perfaciem Christi, per 
latera Christi, per sanguinem Christi, per cor Christi preciosum, per 
clauos Christi in suis manibus et pedibus.' See 'Snails in Nares' 
Glossary. A long essay might be written upon the oaths found in our 
old authors, but the subject is, I think, a most repulsive one. 

652. Here Tyrwhitt notes — ' The Abbey of Hailes, in Glocestershire, 
was founded by Richard, king of the Romans, brother to Henry HI. 
This precious relick, which was afterwards called "the blood of 
Hailes," was brought out of Germany by the son of Richard, Edmund, 
who bestowed a third part of it upon his father's Abbey of Hailes, and 
some time after gave the other two parts to an Abbey of his own 
foundation at Ashrug near Berkhamsted. — HoUinshed, vol. ii. p. 275.' 
The Legend says that the holy blood was obtained by Titus from 
Joseph of Arimathea. Titus put it in the temple of Peace, in Rome. 

LI. 643-656.] THE PARDONERES TALE. 285 

Thence Charlemagne took half of it to Germany, where Edmund 
found it, as said above. The Legend is printed in Horstmann's 
Altenglische Legenden, p. 275. 'A vial was shewn at Hales in 
Glocestershire, as containing a portion of our blessed Saviour's blood, 
which suffered itself to be seen by no person in a state of mortal sin, 
but became visible when the penitent, by his offerings, had obtained 
forgiveness. It was now discovered that this was performed by keep- 
ing blood, which was renewed every week, in a vial, one side of which 
was thick and opaque, the other transparent, and turning it by a secret 
hand as the case required. A trick of the same kind, more skilfully 
executed, is still annually performed at Naples.' — Southey, Book 
of the Church, ch. xii. He refers to Fuller, b. vi. Hist, of Abbeys, 
p. 323; Burnet, i. 323, ed. 1681. See also the word Hales in the 
Index to the works published by the Parker Society ; Pilgrimages to 
Walsingham and Canterbury (by Erasmus), ed. J. G. Nichols, 2nd ed. 
1875, p. 88 ; Dodsley's Old Plays, ed. Hazlitt, i. 339, where a long 
account is given, with a reference to Heame's ed. of Benedictus 
Abbas, ii. 751 ; and Skelton's Garland of Laurel, 1. l46i,on which see 
Dyce's note. 

653. ' My chance is seven ; yours is five and three.' This is an allu- 
sion to the particular game called hazard, not to a mere comparison of 
throws to see which is highest. A certain throw (here seven) is called 
the caster's chajtce. This can only be understood by an acquaintance 
with the rules of the game. See the article Hazard m Supplement to 
Eng. Cyclopaedia, or in Hoyle's Games. See the note to B. 124 ; and 
see the Monkes Tale, B. 385 1. Compare — ' Not unlyke the use of foule 
gamesters, who having lost the maine by [i.e. according to] true 
iudgement, thinke to face it out with a false oath'; Lyly's Euphues 
and his England, ed. Arber, p. 289. 

G56. In the Towneley Mysteries, p. 241, when the soldiers dice for 
Christ's garments, one says — 

' I was falsly begj'led withe thise byched bones, 
Ther cursyd thay be.' 

The readings are : — E. Cp. btcched; Ln. becched; HI. bicc/ied ; Hn. 
Cm. bt'cc/te ; Pt. and old edd. i/izVi, thilke (wrongly). Besides which, 
Tyrwhitt cites bicJief, MS. Harl. 7335 ; becched, Camb. Univ. Lib. Dd. 
4. 24; and, from other MSS., bicched, bicchid, bitched, bicche. The 
general consensus of the MSS. and the quotation from the Towneley 
Mysteries establish the reading given in the text beyond all doubt. 
Yet Tyrwhitt reads bicchel, for which he adduces no authority beyond 
the following. ' Bickel, as explained by Kilian, is talus, ovillus et luso- 
rius ; and bickelen, talis ludere. See also Had. Junii Nomencl. n. 213. 
Our dice indeed are the ancient tesserae (kv^oi) not tali (aa-rpdyaXoi) ; 
but, both being games of hazard, the implements of one might be easily 
attributed to the other. It should seem from Junius, loc. cit., that the 
Germans had preserved the custom of playing with the natural bones, 


as they have different names for a game with tali ovillt, and another 
with tali bttbiili^ 

I find in the Tauchnitz Dutch Dictionary — 'Bi/ckel, cockal. Bikkelen, 
to play at cockals.' Here cockal is the old name for a game with four 
hucklebones (Haliiwell), and is further made to mean the hucklebone 
itself. But there is nothing to connect bicched with Du. bickel, and 
the sense is very different. From the article on Bicched in the New 
Eng. Diet., it appears that the sense is 'cursed, e.xecrable,' and is an 
epithet applied to other things besides dice. It is evidently an oppro- 
brious word, and seems to be derived from the sb. bitch, opprobriously 
used. There is even a quotation in which the verb bitch means to 
bungle or spoil a business. We may explain it by ' cursed bones.' 

662. pryjiie, about nine o'clock ; see notes to A. 3906, B. 201 5. Here 
it means the canonical hour for prayer so called, to announce which 
bells were rung. 

G64. A hand-bell was carried before a corpse at a funeral by the 
sexton. See Rock, Church of Our Fathers, ii. 471 ; Grindal's Works, 
p. 136; Myrc's Instructions for Parish Priests, 1. 1964. 

666. That ooti of thevi, the one of them; the old phrase for 'one of 
them.' kfiave, boy. 

667. Go bet, lit. go better, i. e. go quicker ; a term of encouragement 
to dogs in the chase. So in the Legend of Good Women, 12 13 (Dido, 
1. 290J, we have — 

' The herd of hertes founden is anoon, 
With " hey ! go bet ! prik thou ! lat goon, lat goon ! " ' 

In Skelton's Elynour Rummyng, 1. 332, we have — 'And bad Ely- 
nour go bet.' Haliiwell says^' Go bet, an old hunting cry, often 
introduced in a more general sense. See Songs and Carols, xv ; Shak. 
Soc. Pap. i. 58; Chaucer, C. T. 12601 [the present passage]; Dido, 
28S [290] ; Tyrwhitt's notes, p. 278 ; Ritson's Anc. Pop. Poetiy, p. 46. 
The phrase is mentioned by [Juliana] Bemers in the Boke of St. Alban's, 
and seems nearly equivalent to^^ alottg.' It is strange that no editor 
has perceived the exact sense of this very simple phrase. Cf. ' Keep 
bet our good,' i. e. take better care of my property ; Shipmannes Tale, 
B. 1622. 

679. this pestilence, during this plague. Alluding to the Great 
Plagues that took place in the reign of Edward III, There were four 
such, viz. in 1348-9, 1361-2, 1369, and 1375-6. As Chaucer probably 
had the story from an Italian source, the allusion must be to the first 
and worst of these, the effects of which spread nearly all over Europe, 
and which was severely felt at Florence, as we learn from the descrip- 
tion left by Boccaccio. See my note to Piers Plowman, B. v. 13. 

684. 7/iy dame, my mother ; as in H. 317 ; Piers Plowman, B. v. 2,7. 

695. avow, vow ; to ^nake avow is the old phrase for to vow. 
Tyrwhitt alters it to a voio, quite unnecessarily ; and the same alteration 
has been made by editors in other books, owing to want of familiarity 

LI. 662-727] THE PARDONERES TALE. 287 

with old MSS, It is true that the form voia does occur, as, e.g. in 
P. Plowm. B. prol. 71 ; but it is no less certain that avow occurs also, 
and was the older form ; since we have oon auow (B. 334), and the 
phrase ' I make myn avou,' P. Plowman, A. v. 218 ; where no editorial 
sophistication can evade giving the right spelling. Equally clear is 
the spelling in the Prompt. Parv. — ^ A7/owe,\oin\\\. Awouyti, or to 
make awowe, Vovec' And Mr. Way says — ^ Aiwwe, veu ; Palsgrave. 
This word occurs in R. de Brunne, Wiclif, and Chaucer. The phrase 
" performed his auowe " occurs in the Legenda Aurea, fol. 47.' Those 
who are familiar with MSS. know that a prefixed a is often written 
apart from the word ; thus the word now spelt accord is often written 
'a corde '; and so on. Hence, even when the word is really one word, 
it is still often written 'a uow,' and is naturally printed a 7jow in two 
words, where no such result was intended. Tyrwhitt himself prints 
min avow in the Knightes Tale, A. 2237, and again this avow in the 
same, A. 2414 ; where no error is possible. See more on this word in 
my note to 1. i of Chevy Chase, in Spec, of Eng. 1394-1579. I have 
there said that the form vow does not occur in early writers ; I should 
rather have said, it is by no means the usual form. 

698. brother, i. e. sworn friend; see Kn. Tale, A. I131, II47. In 
1. 704, yboren brother means brother by birth. 

709. to-rente, tare in pieces, dismembered. See note to 1. 474 above. 

713. This'oldman'answerstothe r^w///<7or hermit of the Italian text. 
Note an old (indefinite), as compared with this aide (definite) in 1. 714. 

715. Tyrwhitt, in his Glossary, remarks — ' God you see! 7751 [D. 
2169] ; God him see ! 4576 [B. 156]. May God keep you, or him, in his 
sight ! In Troilus, ii. 85, it is fuller ' : — God you save and see f Gower 
has — 'And than I bidde, God hir see P Conf. Amant. bk. iv. (ed. Chal- 
mers, p. 1 16, col. 2, or ed. Pauli, ii. 96). In Grimm's Teutonic Mythology, 
ed. Stallybrass, i. 21, we find a similar phrase in O. H. German : — 
*daz si got iemer schouwe'; I wain, I. 794. Cf. 'now loke the owre 
lorde ! ' P. Plowman, B. i. 207. See also 1. 766 below. 

727. This is a great improvement upon the Italian Tale, which repre- 
sents the hermit ■s.^Jlceino from death. ' Fratelli miei, io fuggo la morte, 
che mi vien dietro cacciando mi.' 

Professor Kittredge, of Harvard University, informs me that 11. 727- 
'J2,'!) are imitated from the first Elegy of Maximian, of which 11. 1-4, 
223-8 are as follows : — 

'Almula cur cessas finem properare senectus? 

Cur et in hoc fesso corpore tarda sedes ? 
Solue, precor, miseram tali de carcere uitam ; 

Mors est iam requies, uiuere poena mihi . . . 
Hinc est quod baculo incumbens ruitura senectus 

Assiduo pigram uerbere pulsat humum. 

' This seems to be a mistake ; the MSS. and old editions have simply ' god 
you see.' 


Et numerosa mouens certo uestigia passu 

Talia rugato creditur ore loqui : 
"Suscipe me, genetrix, nati miserere laborum, 
Membra uelis gremio fessa fouere tuo.'" 
Cf. Calderon, Les Tres Justicias en Una; Act ii. sc. i. 

731, leve inoder, dear mother Earth ; see * genetrix ' above. 

734. cheste. Mr. Jephson (in Bell's edition) is puzzled here. He 
takes cheste \o mean a coffin, which is certainly the sense in the Clerk's 
Prologue, E. 29. The simple solution is that cheste refers here, not to 
a coffin, but to the box for holding clothes which, in olden times, almost 
invariably stood in every bedroom, at the foot of the bed. ' At the 
foot of the bed there was usually an iron-bound hutch or locker, which 
served both as a seat, and as a repository for the apparel and wealth of 
the owner, who, sleeping with his sword by his side, was prepared 
to protect it against the midnight thief; Our English Home, p. loi. 
It was also called a coffer, a hutch, or an ark. The old man is 
ready, in fact, to exchange his chest, containing all his worldly 
gear, for a single hair-cloth, to be used as his shroud. 

743. In the margin of MSS. E. Hn. and Pt. is the quotation 
* Coram canuto capite consurge,' from Levit. xix. 32. Hence we 
must understand Agay/is, in 1. 743, to mean be/ore, or in presence of. 
Cf. B. 3702. 

748. God be with you is said, with probability, to have been the 
original of our modern unmeaning Good bye ' go or ryde, a general 
phrase for locomotion ; go here means walk. Cp. * ryde or go,' Kn. 
Tale, A. 135 1. Cf. note to 1. 866. 

771. The readings are : — E. Hn. Cm. an .viij. ; Ln. a .vij. ; Cp. Pt. 
HI. a seuen. The word eighte is dissyllabic ; cf. A. S. eahta, Lat. octo. 
Wei Jty an eighte busshels=\ery nearly the quantity of eight bushels. 
The mention oi florins is quite in keeping with the Italian character of 
the poem. Those coins were so named because originally coined at 
Florence, the first coinage being in 1252 ; note in Cary's Dante, In- 
ferno, c. XXX. The expression ' floreyn of florence ' occurs in The Book 
of Quintessence, ed. Furnivall, p. 6. The value of an English florin 
was 6^. Zd.'^ see note to Piers Plowman, B. ii. 143. There is an 
excellent note on florifis in Thynne's Animadversions on Speght's 
Chaucer, ed. Furnivall, p. 45. 

781. In allusion to the old proverb — * Lightly come, lightly go.' 
Cotgrave, s. v. Fleute, gives the corresponding French proverb thus : — 
' Ce qui est venu par la fleute s'en retoume avec le tabourin ; that the 
pipe hath gathered, the tabour scattereth ; goods ill gotten are commonly 
ill spent.' In German — 'wie gewonnen, so zerronnen.' 

782. wende, would have weened, would have supposed. It is the 
past tense subjunctive. 

790. doo7i ns honge, lit. cause (men) to hang us ; we should now 
say, cause us to be hanged. 'The Anglo-Saxons nominally punished 
theft with death, if above I2d. value ; but the criminal could redeem 

LI. 731-889.] THE PARDONERES TALE. 289 

his life by a ransom. In the 9th of Henry I. this power of redemption 
was taken away, 1108. The punishment of theft was very severe in 
England, till mitigated by Peel's Acts, 9 and 10 Geo. IV. 1829.' — 
Haydn, s. v. Theft. 

793. To d7'aw cuts is to draw lots ; see Prologue, 835, 838, 845. 
A number of straws were held by one of the company ; the rest drew 
one apiece, and whoever drew the longest (or the shortest) was the one 
on whom the lot fell. The fatal straw was the cut\ cf. Welsh civtivs^ 
a lot. In France, the lot fell on him who drew the longest straw ; 
so that their phrase was — 'tirer la longue paille.' 

797. So in the Italian story — ' rechi del pane e del vino,' let him 
fetch bread and wine. 

806-894. Here Chaucer follows the general sense of the Italian story 
rather closely, but with certain amplifications. 

807. That oon, the one ; that other, the other (vulgarly, the tother). 

819. conseil, a secret ; as in P. Plowman, B. v. 168. We still say — 
*to keep one's own counsel.' 

838. rolleth, revolves ; cf. D. 2217, Troil. v. 13 1 3. 

844. So the Italian story — 'II Demonio . . . mise in cuore a costui,' 
&c. ; the devil put it in his heart ; see vol. iii. p. 441. 

848. ieve, leave. ' That he had leave to bring him to sorrow.' 

851-878. Of this graphic description there is no trace in the Italian 
story as we now have it. Cf. Rom. and Juliet, v. i. 

860. also, as. The sense is — as (I hope) God may save my soul. 
That our modern as is for als, which is short for a/so, from the A. S. 
eall-sii'd, is now well known. This fact was doubted by Mr. Singer, 
but Sir F. Madden, in his Reply to Mr. Singer's remarks upon 
Havelok the Dane, accumulated such a mass of evidence upon the 
subject as to set the question at rest for ever. It follows that as and 
also are doublets, or various spellings of the same word. 

865. sterve,6\&\ A.S. stcor/an. The cognate German j-/^r<J^;^ retains 
the old general sense. See 1. 888 below. 

8G6. gooji a paas, walk at an ordinary foot-pace ; so also, a Ittel more 
tha?tpaas, a little faster than at a foot-pace, Prol. 825. Cotgrave has — 
' Aller le pas, to pace, or go at a foot-pace ; to walk fair and softly, or 
faire and leisurely.' fiat but, no more than only ; cf. North of Eng- 
land Jiobbut. The time meant would be about twenty minutes at most. 

888. In the Italian story—' amendue caddero morti,' both of them fell 
dead ; see vol. iii. p. 442. 

889. Avicett, Avicenna ; mentioned in the Prologue, 1. 432. Avi- 
cenna, or Ibn-Sina, a celebrated Arabian philosopher and physician, 
born near Bokhara A. D. 980, died A. D. 1037. His chief work was 
a treatise on medicine known as the Canon (' Kitab al-Kanun fi'1-Tibb,' 
that is, ' Book of the Canon in Medicine '). This book, alluded to in 
the next line, is divided into books and sections ; and the Arabic 
word for ' section ' is in the Latin version denoted by fen, from the 
Arabic _/({««, a part of any science. Chaucer's expression is not quite 

*  JJ^ TT 


correct ; he seems to have taken canon in its usual sense of rule, 
whereas it is really the title of the whole work. It is much as if one 
were to speak of Dante's work in the terms — 'such as Dante never 
wrote in any Divina Commedia nor in any canto.' Lib. iv. Fen i of 
Avicenna's Canon treats ' De Venenis.' 

895. Against this line is written, in MS. E. only, the word 'Auctor '; 
to shew that the paragraph contained in 11. 895-903 is a reflection by 
the author. 

897. The final e in gluionye is preserved by the caesural pause ; but 
the scansion of the line is more easily seen by supposing it suppressed. 
Hence in order to scan the line, suppress the final e mghdonye, lay the 
accent on the second u in Inxurie, and slur over the final -ie in that 
word. Thus — 

O glut I on^' 1 luxu I rie and hds | ardr^-e || 

904. good' men is the common phrase of address to hearers in old 
homilies, answering to the modern ' dear brethren.' The Pardoner, 
having told his tale (after which Chaucer himself has thrown in a moral 
reflection), proceeds to improve his opportunity by addressing the 
audience in his usual professional style ; see 1. 915. 

907. 7ioble, a coin worth 6s. 8d., first coined by Edward II L about 
1339. See note to P. Plowman, B. iii. 45. 

908. So in P. Plowman, B. prol. 75, it is said of the Pardoner that he 
'raughte with his ragman [bull] rynges and broches.' 

910. Cometh is to be pronounced Cometh, as in Pro!. 839 ; so also in 
1. 925 below. 

920. fnale, bag ; see Prol. 694. Cf. E. mail-bag. 

935. The first two syllables in perav^ntiire are to be very rapidly 
pronounced ; it is not uncommon to find the spelling peratmter, as in 
P. Plowman, B. xi. 10. 

937. which a, what sort of a, how great a, what a. 

945. Ye, for a grote, yea, even for a groat, i.e. 4^. 

946. have I, may I have ; an imprecation. 

947. so iheech, a colloquialism for so thee ich, as I may thrive, as I 
hope to thrive. The Host proceeds to abuse the Pardoner. 

95L This is a reference to the ' Invention of the Cross,' or finding of 
the true cross by St. Helen, the mother of Constantine ; commemorated 
on May 3. See Chambers, Book of Days, i. 586 ; Alban Butler, Lives 
of the Saints. 

962. right ynotigh, quite enough ; right is an adverb. Cf. 1. 960. 


The Wife of Bath's Prologue. 

^ There is nothing whatever to connect this Prologue with any 
preceding Tale. In MS. E. and most others, it follows the Man of Law's 
Tale, which cannot be right, as that Tale must be followed by the 
Shipman's Prologue. Curiously enough, that Prologue does follow the 
Man of Law's Tale in the Harleian MS., but the Wife of Bath's Tale 
is made to follow next, in place of the Shipman's Tale. 

In MS. Pt., and several others, the Wife's Prologue follows the 
Merchant's Tale; such is the arrangement in edd, 1532 and 1561. 
This is possible, as the Merchant's Tale ends a Fragment, and the 
Wife's Prologue begins one ; but it is easier to fit the lines at the end 
of the Merchant's Tale to the Squire's Prologue. In the Royal MS. 
18. C. 2, and in MSS. Laud 739 and Barlow 20, there is an attempt to 
introduce the Wife's Prologue by some spurious lines which are printed 
in vol. iii. p. 446. I just note that we have a genuine Epilogue to the 
Merchant's Tale (see E. 2419-2440) ; which is quite enough to put 
the above lines out of court. 

MS. Ln. has a different arrangement. It gives eight spurious lines at 
the end of the Squire's Tale, and then four more spurious lines to 
link them with the Wife's Prologue ; see vol. iii. p. 446. 

In the Ellesmere MS. there are numerous quotations in the margin, 
as will be noted in due course. In the Essays on Chaucer, pp. 293, 
the Rev. W. W. Woollcombe has shewn that the passages which seem 
to be taken from John of Salisbury are really taken from Jerome, whom 
John copied, verbally, at some length. I may add, that I came 
independently to the same conclusion ; indeed, it becomes obvious, on 
investigation, that such was the case. Chaucer's chief sources for 
this Prologue are : Jerome's Epistle against Jovinian, and Le Roman 
de la Rose. I quote the former (frequently) from Hieronymi Opus 
Epistolarum, edited by Erasmus, printed at Basle in 1524. 

1. aiicioriiee, authoritative text, quotable statement of a good author. 
'Though there were no written statement on the subject, my own 
experience would enable me to speak of the evils of marriage.' Cf. the 

U 2 


character of the Wife in the Prologue, A. 445-476. Lines 1-3 are 
imitated from Le Rom. de la Rose, 13006-10. 

6. So in A. 460, with she haddc for / have had; see note to that 

7. The alternative reading (in the footnote) does not agree with 1.6. 
MS. E. is quite right here. Probably MS. Cm. would have given us 
the same reading, but it is here mutilated. 

11. In E., a sidenote has : — ' In Cana Galilee'; from John, ii. i. 

12-13. In E., a sidenote has: — 'Qui enim semel iuit ad nuptias, 
docuit semel esse nubendum.' This is from Hieronymi lib. i. c. 
Jovinianum ; Epist. (ut supra), t. ii. p. 29. But the edition has itenti for 
im't, and semel doctdt. 

14-22. This also is from Jerome, as above (p. 28) : — * Siquidem et 
ilia in Euangelio lohannis Samaritana, sextum se maritum habere 
dicens, arguitur a domino, quod non sit uir eius. Vbi enim numerus 
maritorum est, ibi uir, qui proprie unus est, esse desiit.' Cf. John, 
iv. 18. 

23-25. In the margin of E. we find : — ' Non est uxorum numerus 
dififinitus.' About 15 lines after the last quotation, we find in Jerome: 
 — 'non esse uxorum numerum definitum.' This is immediately 
preceded (in Jerome) by a quotation from St. Paul (l Cor. vii. 29), 
which is also quoted in the margin of E. 

28. In the margin of E. — ' Crescite et multiplicamini ' ; Gen. i. 28. 
The text was suggested by the fact that Jerome quotes it near the be- 
ginning of his letter (p. 18). Soon after (p. 19), he quotes Matt. xix. 5, 
which Chaucer quotes accordingly in 1. 31. 

33. bigainye. ' Bigamy, according to the canonists, consisted not 
only in marrying two wives at a time, but in marrying two spinsters 
successively.' — Bell. 

octogamye, marriage of eight husbands. This queer word is due 
to Jerome, and affords clear proof of Chaucer's indebtedness. 'Non 
damno digamos, imo nee trigamos ; et (si dici potest) octogavios ' ; 
p. 29. Cf. ' A dodecagamic Potter,' in a note to ' And a polygamic 
Potter,' in Shelley's Prologue to Peter Bell the Third. 

35. here, hear ; a gloss in E. has ' audi.' See I Kings, xi. 3. 

44. Tyrwhitt says that, after this v-erse, some MSS. (as Camb. Dd. 
4. 24, Ii. 3. 26, and Egerton 2726) have the six lines following : — 

' Of whiche I have pyked out the beste 
Both of here nether purs and of here cheste. 
Diverse scoles maken parfyt clerkes. 
And diverse practyk in many sondry werkes 
Maken the werkman parfyt sekirly ; 
Of five husbondes scoleryng am L' 

He adds—' if these lines are not Chaucer's, they are certainly more 
in his manner than the generality of the imitations of him. Perhaps 
he wrote them, and afterwards blotted them out. They come in but 


awkwardly here, and he has used the principal idea in another 

place : — 

For sondry scoles maken sotil clerkes ; 

Womman of many scoles half a clerk is'; E. 1427. 

I beg leave to endorse Tyrwhitt's opinion; the six lines are certainly 
genuine, and I therefore repeat them, in a better spelling and form. 

Of whiche I have y-piked out the beste, 
Bothe of hir nether purs and of hir cheste. 
Diverse scoles maken parfit clerkes ; 
Divers praktyk in many sondry werkes 
Maketh the werkman parfit sekirly ; 
Of fyve housbondes scolering am I. 

I know of no other example oi scoler-ing, i.e. young scholar. 

46. In the margin of E. is here written — ' Si autem non continent, 
nubant'; from i Cor. vii. 9. 

47. In the margin of E. is a quotation from Jerome, p. 28 ; but it 
is really from the Vulgate, i Cor. vii. 39 ; viz. — ' Quod si dormierit uir 
eius, libera est ; cui uult, nubat, tantum in Domino.' Cf. Rom. vii. 3. 

51-52. Alluding to i Cor. vii. 28, and I Cor. vii. 9, here quoted in 
the margin of E. 

54. * Primus Lamech sanguinarius et homicida, unam carnem in duas 
diuisit uxores ' ; Jerome (as above), p. 29, 1. i ; partly quoted here in 
the margin of E. Cf. Gen. iv. 19-23. 'There runs through the whole 
cf this doctrine about bigamy a confusion between marrj'ing twice 
and having two wives at once.' — Bell. See the allusions to Lamech in 
F. 550, and Anelida, 150. 

55-56. In the margin of E. is : — 'Abraham trigamus : lacob quad- 
rigamus.' Discussed by Jerome, p. 19, near the bottom. 

61. * Ecce, inquit [louinianus], Apostolus profitetur de uirginibus 
Domini se non habere praeceptum ; et qui cum autoritate de maritis 
et uxoribus iusserat, non audet imperare quod Dominus non 
praecepit. . . . Frustra enim iubetur, quod in arbitrio eius ponitur cui 
iussum est '; &c. — Jerome (as above), p. 25. 

65. See l Cor. vii. 25, here quoted in the margin of E. 

69. ' Si uirginitatem Dominus imperasset, uidebatur nuptias con- 
demnare, et hominum auferre seminarium, unde et ipsa uirginitas 
nascitur'; Jerome, p. 25. 

75. Tyrwhitt aptly quotes from Lydgate's Falls of Princes, fol. 

xxvi : — 

'And oft it happeneth, he that hath best ron 

Doth not the spere like his desert possede.' 

We must conclude that a dart or spear was the prize given (in some 
games) to the best runner. That dart here means ' prize,' appears 
from another proof altogether. For in the margin of E. we here find 
a quotation from Jerome, p. 26, which runs in a fuller form, thus : — 
'Proponit dywi/o^eV/jr praemiufn, inuitat ad cursum, tenet in manu 


uirginitatis brauium, . . . et clamitat, ... qui potest capere, capiat.* 
The word brauium, i. e. prize in a race, is borrowed from the Vulgate, 
1 Cor. ix. 24, where the Greek has /Spn/Selov. ' Catch who so may,' in 
1. 76, represents ' qui potest capere, capiat.' Hence cacche here means 
* win.' 

81. Alluding to i Cor. vii. 7, here quoted in E. 

84. * Haec autem dico secundum indulgentiam'; i Cor. vii. 6. 

87. Alluding to I Cor. vii. i, here quoted in E. 

89. iassemble, for to assemble, to bring together. 

Cf. 'qui ignem tetigerit, statim aduritur,' &c.^erome, p. 21. 

91. Cf. * Simulque considera, quod aliud donum uirginitatis sit, aliud 
nuptiarum ' ; Jerome (as above), ii. 22. 

96. pre/er7-e is evidently a neuter verb here, meaning ' be prefer- 
able to.' 

101. tree, wood ; alluding to 2 Tim. ii. 20. 

103. a propre yifte, a gift peculiar to him ; see I Cor. vii. 7, here 
quoted in E. 

105. See Rev. xiv. 1-4, a line or two from which is here quoted in E. 

W^. fore, track, course, footsteps; glossed 'steppes' in MS. E. 
Some MSS. have the inferior lore, shewing that the scribes understood 
the word no better than the writer of the note in Bell's Chaucer, who 
says — * Harl, MS. reads fore, which is probably a mere clerical error.' 
Wright, however, correctly retains fore. It occurs again in D. 1935, 
q. v., where Tyrwhitt again alters it to lore. I?radley gives ten 
examples of it, to which I can add another, viz. * he folowede the fore 
of an oxe,' Trevisa, ii. 343 (repeated from the example in i. 197, which 
Bradley cites). A. S.for, a course, way ; from faran (pt. t.for), to go. 
Cf. Matt. xix. 21, which is quoted in Cp. and Pt. 

115, 'Et cur, inquies, creata sunt genitalia, et sic a conditore 
sapientissimo fabricati sumus, &c. . . ipsa organa . . sexus differentiam 
praedicant ' ; Jerome (as above), p. 42. 

117. I give the reading of E., which seems much the best. For 
wight, Cm. has ivyf Hn. has : And of so pa^Ht wys a wight 
y-wroght; which is also good. But Cp. Pt. Ln. have: And of so 
parfyt wise and why y-wrought. HI. has : And in what wise was a wight 
y-wrought. The last reading is the worst. 

128. /her, where, wherein. With 1. 130, cf. I Cor. \n. 3, where the 
Vulgate has ' Uxori uir debitum reddat.' 

135. ' Nunquam ergo cessemus a libidine, ne frustra huiuscemodi 
membra portemus'; Jerome, p. 42. 

144. hoten, be called ; A. S. hatan. The sense is — ' Let virgins be 
as bread made of selected wheaten flour ; and let us wives be called 
barley-bread ; nevertheless Jesus refreshed many a man with barley- 
bread, as St. Mark tells us.' Chaucer makes a slight mistake ; it is 
St. John who speaks of i^rtr/ijj'-loaves ; see John vi. 9 (cf Mark vi. 38). 
For hoten, Tyrwhitt, Wright, Bell, and Morris, all give the mistaken 
reading cten, which misses the whole point of the argument; but 


Oilman has Jtoien. There is no question as to what the Wife should 
eat, but only as to her condition in life. It is the Wife herself who is 
compared to something edible. 

The comparison is from Jerome (as above), p. 21 : — 'Velut si quis 
definiat : Bonum est triticeo pane uesci, et edere punssimatn stmilatn. 
Tamen ne quis compulsus fame stercus bubulum : concede ei, ut ues- 
catur et hordeo' 

147. Alluding to i Cor. vii. 20, here quoted in E. 

151. datitigerous, difficult of access; cf. 1. 514. 

155, In the margin of E. — ' Qui uxorem habet, et debitor dicitur, et 
esse in praeputio, et senilis uxoris,' &c. From Jerome (as above), 
p. 26. 

156. Alluding to i Cor. vii. 28, here quoted in E. 
158. Alluding to i Cor. vii. 4, here quoted in E. 
161. Alluding to Eph. v. 25, here quoted in E. 

167-168. What, why. to-yere, this year; cf. to-day. ' To-yere, 
homo, hornus, hornotintis'; Catholicon Anglicum. The phrase is 
still in use in some of our dialects. 

170. another tonne. This expression is probably due to Le Roman 
de la Rose, 6839 :— 

' Jupiter en toute saison 
A sor le suel de sa maison, 
Ce dit Omers, deus plains tonneaus,' &c. 

This again is from Homer's two urns, sources of good and evil (Iliad, 
xxiv. 527), as qi!oted by Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 2. See note in vol. ii. 
p. 428 (1. 53). It is suggested that the Pardoner has been used to 
a tun of ale, and now he must expect to have a taste of something 
less pleasant. Cf. 1. 177. 
One of Gower's French Balades contains the lines : — 

'Deux tonealx ad [Cupide] dont il les gentz fait boire ; 
L'un est assetz plus douls que n'est pyment, 
L'autre est amier plus que null arrement.' 
180. The saying referred to is written in the margin of Dd., as 
Tyrwhitt tells us. It runs : — ' Qui per alios non corrigitur, alii per ipsum 
corrigentur.' With regard to its being written in Ptolemy's Almagest, 
Tyrwhitt quaintly remarks : — ' I suspect that the Wife of Bath's copy of 
Ptolemy was very different from any that I have been able to meet with.' 
The same remark applies to her second quotation in 1. 326 below. 
I have no doubt that the Wife is simply copying, for convenience, 
these words in Le Roman de la Rose, 7070 : — 
' Car nous lisons de Tholomee 
Une parole moult honeste 
Au comencier de sAlmageste,' iS:c. 
Jean de Meun then cites a passage of quite another kind, but the 
Wife of Bath did not stick at such a trifle. The Almagest is mentioned 
again in the same, 1. 18772. 


As to the above saying, cf. Barbour's Bruce, i. 121, 2 ; and my 
notes to the line at pp. 545 and 612 of the same. ' Felix quem faciunt 
aliena pericula cautum'; cf. Rom. de la Rose, 8041; Robert of 
Brunne, Handlyng Synne, 8086. 

183. Ahnageste. The celebrated astronomer, Claudius Ptolemaeus, 
who flourished in the second century, wrote, as his chief work, the 
fieyaXr} crvvTa^is tt]s daTpovoiitas. This work was also called, for brevity, 
fi€yd\r), and afterwards ncylaTr] (greatest) ; out of which, by prefixing 
the Arab, article al, the Arabs made Al-mejisti, or Al-fnagest. 

197. Here wer-e is made dissyllabic. For The three, HI. has Ttio ; 
which is clearly wrong. 

199. In the margin of E. is written part of the last sentence in 
Part I. of Jerome's treatise : — 'hierophantas quoque Atheniensium usque 
hodie cicutae sorbitione castrari ; et postquam in pontificatum fuerint 
electi, uiros esse desinere.' Probably quoted to emphasize the sense 
of iih'os. 

207-210. Imitated from Le Rom. de la Rose, 13478-82. 

218. Duninowe, in Essex, N. W. of Chelmsford. Tyrwhitt refers us 
to Blount's Ancient Tenures, p. 162, and adds :— 'This whimsical in- 
stitution was not peculiar to Dunmow ; there was the same in Bretagne. 
"A I'Abbaie Sainct I\Ielaine, prfes Rennes, y a, plus de six cens ans 
sont, un cost^ de lard encore tous frais et non corrumpu ; et neant- 
moins voud et ordonne aux premiers, qui par an et jour ensemble 
mariez ont vescut san debat, grondement, et sans s'en repentir." — 
Contcs d Entrap, t. ii. p. 161.' See P. Plowman, C. xi. 276, and my 
long note on the subject. 

220. fawe, fain ; a variant form of fain, A. S. fcegen, fcegn. See 
Havelok, 2160; Alisaunder, ed. Weber, 1956 ; &c. 

221. Here occurs the first reference to "Ca.^ Aur coins Liber de Nuptiis, 
written by a certain Theophrastus, who is mentioned below (1. 671), 
and in E. 13 10. Jerome gives a long extract from this work in his book 
against Jovinian (so frequently cited above), and has thus preserved 
a portion of it ; and John of Salisbury transferred the whole extract 
bodily to his Policraticus. It it clear that Chaucer used the work of 
Jerome rather than that of John of Salisbury. The extract from Theo- 
phrastus occurs not far from the end of the first book of the epistle 
against Jovinian ; and near the beginning of it occur the words — 'de 
foro ueniens quid attulisti?' — Jerome (as above), p. 51. This probably 
suggested the present line, as it is a question put by a wife to her 

226. atid here heju, i. e. and wrongly accuse them, or make them be- 

227. Tyrwhitt quotes two corresponding lines from Le Roman de la 

' Car plus hardiment que nulz homs 
Certainement jurent et mentent.' 

He refers to 1. 19013 ; but in Mdon's edition, these are 11. 18336-7. 


229. Cf. Le Rom. de la Rose, 9949: — ' Ce ne di-ge pas por les 

231. wys, cunning. In MSS. E. and Hn. the caesura! pause is 
marked after wyf. The Hne, as it stands, is imperfect, and only to be 
scanned by making the pause after wyfoczw^y the space of a syllable. 
The reading "wys-e gets over the difficulty, but is hardly what we should 
expect ; it is remarkable that E. Hn. and Cm. all read wys, without 
a final e ; cf. ivys'm. A. 68, 785, 851. The onlyjustificationof theform 
ivys-e would be to consider it as feminine ; and such seems to be 
the case in Gower, Conf. Am., ed. Pauli, i. 156 : — * His doughter wis-e 
Petronel-le.' if that she can Mr good, if she knows what is to her 

232. 'Will make him believe that the chough is mad.' In the New 
E. Diet., s. V. Chough, Dr. Murray shews that the various readings 
cou, cowe, kowe, &c. tend to prove that cow in this passage may well 
mean * chough ' or 'jackdaw ' rather than ' cow.' This solves the diffi- 
culty ; for the allusion is clearly to one of the commonest of medieval 
stories, told of various talking birds, originally of a parrot. 

Very briefly, the story runs thus. A jealous husband, leaving his 
wife, sets his parrot to watch her. On his return, the bird reports her 
misconduct. But the wife avxrs that the parrot lies, and tries to prove 
it by an ingenious stratagem. The husband believes his frail wife's plot, 
and promptly wrings the bird's neck for telling stories, under the impres- 
sion that it has gone mad. 

I formerly explained this in The Academy, April 5, 1890, p. 239. In 
the no. for April 19, p. 269, Mr. Clouston referred me to his paper on 
'The Tell-tale Bird' printed in the Chaucer Society's Originals and 
Analogues, p. 439, with reference to the Manciple's Tale, which 
relates a similar stor^'. See the account of the Manciple's Tale in 
vol. iii. p. 501. It is the story of the Husband and the Parrot, in the 
Arabian Nights' Entertainment. 

This line of Chaucer's seems to have attracted attention, though there 
is nothing to shew how it was understood. Thus, in Roy's Rede me 
and be nott Wrothe, ed. Arber, p. 80, we find : — 

' Because they canne flatter and lye, 
Makynge bele\'e the cowe is wade' 

In Awdelay's Fraternyte of Vacabondes (E. E. T. S.), p. 14, we find : 
'Gyle Hather is he, that wyll stand by his Maister when he is at 
dinner, and byd him beware that he eate no raw meate, because he 
would eate it himself. This is a pickthanke knaue, that would make 
his Maister beleue that the Cowe is woode? Palsgrave, in his French 
Dictionary, p. 421, has: — ' I am borne in hande of a thyng ; On me 
faict a croyre. He wolde beare me in hande the kowe is woode ; time 
veult fayre a croyre de blanc que ce soit Jioyr.' The spelling coe for 
'jackdaw' occurs in Skelton's Phyllyp Sparowe, I. 468. See also Hoc- 
cleve's Works, ed. Fumivall, p. 217, where ' Magge, the good kowe' is 


an obvious error for ' Magge the wode kovve,' since 'Magge' is a 
name for a ;«<r^-pie. This I also explained in The Academy, April i, 
1893, p. 285. 

233. ' And she will take witness, of her own maid, of her (the maid's) 
assent (to her truth).' This is part of the proof of the correctness of 
the interpretation of the preceding line. For, in most of the versions 
of the tale above referred to, the lady is aided and abetted by a maid 
who is in her confidence. 

235. Here Chaucer takes several hints from the book of Theophrastus 
as quoted by Jerome ; see note to 1. 221. Thus (in Jerome, as above, 
p. 51) we find: — ' Deinde pernoctes totas garrulae conquestiones : — 
Ilia omatior procedit in publicum ; haec honoratior ab omnibus : 
ego in conuentu feminarum misella despicior. Cur aspiciebas uicinam ? 
Quid cum ancillula loquebaris ? ' It is continued at 1. 243 ; cf. ' Non 
amicum habere possumus, non sodalem.* Next, at 1. 248 ; cf. ' Pauperem 
alere difficile est, diuitem ferre tormentum.' Next, at 1. 253 ; cf. 

* Pulchra cito adamatur . . . Difificile custoditur quod plures amant.' 
Jean de Meun also quotes from Theophrastus plentifully, mentioning 
him by name in Le Rom. de la Rose, 1. 8599 ; see the whole passage. 
' Caynard, obsolete, adapted from F. cagnard, sluggard (according to 
Littre, from Ital. cagfta, bitch, fem. of cane, dog). A lazy fellow, a slug- 
gard ; a term of reproach. (1303) Rob. of Brunne, Handlyng Synne, 
1. 8300 : A kaynarde ande an olde folte [misprinted folle]. (About 1 3 10) 
in Wright's Lyric Poems, xxxix. no (1842) : This croked caynard, 
sore he is a-dred.' — New Eng. Diet, (where the present passage is also 

246. See A. 1261, and the note. Wright here adds two more ex- 
amples. He says — *In the satirical poem of Doctor Double-ale, [in 
Hazlitt's Early Pop. Poetry, iii. 308], we have the lines : — 

Then seke another house. 
This is not worth a louse ; 
As dronken as a mouse. 

Among the Letters relating to the Suppression of Monasteries (Camden 
Soc), p. 133, there is one from a monk of Pershore, who says that his 
brother monks of that house " drynk an bowll after collacyon tell ten 
or xii. of the clock, and cum to mattens as dronck as inys.'" ' 

248. See note to 1. 235 above ; so again, for 1. 253, cf. Le Rom. de la 
Rose, 8617-8638. 

255. Cf. Ovid, Pleroid. xvi. 288 :— 

' Lis est cum forma magna pudicitiae.' 

257. Probably Chaucer was thinking of a passage in Theophrastus, 
following soon after that quoted in the note to 1. 235. 'Alius forma, 
alius ingenio, alius facetiis, alius liberalitate sollicitat.' But Theo- 
phrastus is referring to the accomplishments of the wooers rather 
than of the women wooed. Cf. Le Rom. de la Rose, 11. 8629-36 — 

* S'ele est bele,' &c. 


263. Clearly from Le Rom. de la Rose, 1. 8637 — 
' Car tor de toutes pars assise 
Envis eschape d'estre prise.' 
265. Immediately after, we have — 

'S'ele rest lede, el vuet k tous plaire ; 
. . . vuet tous ceus qui la voient.' 
269. See in Hazlitt's Proverbs : 'Joan's as good as my lady in the dark.' 

271. * It is a hard matter to control a thing that no one would 
willingly keep.' Simply translated from Theophrastus (see note to 
1. 235), who has — ' Molestum est possidere, quod nemo habere dignetur.' 

272. helde, a variant form of holde, hold, keep ; froni A. S. healdan. 
As Chaucer usually has holde (see D. 1 144), helde is probably used for 
the sake of the rime. Note that it is the only example of a rime in -elde 
in the whole of the Canterbury Tales ; indeed, the only other example 
is in Troil. ii. 2>yi~^- ^^ ^"^1 the same rime in King Horn, 1. 911 : — 

*Mi rengne thu schalt welde, 
And to spuse helde 
Reynild mi doghter.' 
275. Again from Theophrastus (near the beginning) : — ' Non est 
ergo uxor ducenda sapienti. Primum enim impediri studia philo- 
sophiae,' >S:c. 

277. ivelked, withered ; see C. 738, and Stratmann. 

278. Chaucer quotes this, as from Solomon, in the Pers. Tale, I. 631, 
and explains it there more fully ; and again, in the Tale of IVIelibeus, 
B. 2276. An Anglo-French poet named Hemian wrote a poem ' on the 
three words, smoke, rain, and woman, which, according to Solomon, 
drive a man from his house ; and it appears from the poem that it 
was composed at the suggestion of Alexander, bishop of Lincoln, who 
died in 1 147.' — T. Wright, Biographia Brit. Literaria, Anglo-Norman 
Period, p. 333. See also my note to P. Plowman, C. xx. 297, quoted 
in the note to B. 2276 above, at p. 207. 

282. This again is from Theophrastus (see note to 1. 235) : — ' Si 
iracunda, si fatua, si deformis, si superba, si foetida ; quodcunque 
uitii est, post nuptias discimus.' 

285. Immediately after the last quotation there follows: — 'Equus, 
asinus, bos, canis, et uilissima mancipia, uestes quoque et lebetes, 
sedile lignum, calix et urceolus fictilis probantur prius, et sic emuntur : 
sola uxor non ostenditur, ne ante displiceat, qukm ducatur.' 

293. Next follows: — 'Attendenda semper eius est facies, et pul- 
chritudo laudanda . . . Vocanda " domina," celebrandus natalis eius, 
. . . honoranda nutrix eius, et gerula, seruus, patrimus, et alumnus,' 
&c. Cf. Le Rom. de la Rose, 139 14. 

303-306. Next follows : — * et formosus assecla, et procurator cala- 
mistratus, et in longam securamque libidinem exectus spado : sub 
quibus nominibus adulteri delitescunt.' 

Chaucer has merely taken the general idea, and given it a form 
peculiarly adapted to his sketch. That he really ivas thinking of this 


passage is clear from the fact that, in the margin of E., appears this 
note — ' Et procurator calamistratus.' 

311. of our dame, of the mistress, i.e. of myself. 

312. Seint lame, St. James ; see A. 466, and the note. 

320. Alis^ Alice ; A. F. Alice, Alys, Aleyse ; Lat. Alicia. Skelton 
rimes Ales with tales ; Elinour Rummyng, 351-2. 

322. at our large, free, at large ; we now drop our. Cf. A. 1283. 
325. See notes to 11. 180, 183. We need not search in Ptolemy for 
this saying. 

327. ivho hath the world in honde, i. e. who has abundant wealth. 
Cf. 1. 330. The sense of the proverb is, that the wisest man is he who 
is contented, who cares nothing that others are much richer than him- 
self. Cf. I Tim. vi. 6, 8 ; and the proverb — ' Content is all.' In the 
margin of E. is written the Latin form of the saying: — ' Inter omnes 
altior existit, qui non curat in cuius manu sit mundus.' 

333. wertie, forl^id, refuse. The idea is from Le Roman de la 
Rose, 1. 7447 : — 

* Moult est fox qui tel chose esperne, 
C'est la chandele en la lanterne ; 
Qui mil en i alumeroit, 
Ja mains de feu n'i troveroit. 
Chascun set la similitude,' <kz. 

It was quite a proverbial phrase, as the last line shews. It occurs, for 
example, in Alexander and Dindimus, ed. Skeat, 1. 233, and in the 
original Latin text of the same. Duke Francesco Maria della Rovere 
used the device of *a lighted candle, by which others are lighted, 
with the motto Non degener addam ' ; i. e. I will add without loss. — 
Mrs. Palliser, Historic Devices, p. 263. Cicero (De Ofificiis, i. 16) 
quotes three lines from Ennius containing the same idea. 

342. From i Tim. ii. 9, here quoted in the margin of E. 

350. his, its. The pronoun is here neuter, and is the same in all 
the MSS. Tynvhitt altered it to hire (her), but needlessly. But in 
I. 352, the sex of the cat is defined. As to the singed cat, * that, as 
they say, does not like to roam,' see The Exempla of Jacques de Vitr)', 
ed. Crane, (Folk Lore Soc), 1890, pp. 219, 241. 

354. goon a-caterwawed, go a-caterwauling. I explain the sufifix 
-ed as put for -eth, A. S. -ad, as in on hirnta^, a-hunting ; where -ad is 
a substantival suffix. I have given several examples of this curious 
substitution in the note to C. 406, q. v. Cotgrave has : ^Aller a gars, 
to hunt after lads ; (a wench) to go a caterwawling.' And see Cater- 
waul in the New Eng. Diet. 

357. Clearly from Le Rom. de la Rose, 14583 : — 

'Nus ne puet metre en fame garde, 
S'ele meisme ne se garde : 
Se c'iert Argus qui la gardast, 
Qui de ses cent yex I'esgardast, . . . 


N'i vaudroit sa garde mhs riens : 
Fox est qui se garde tel mesriens.' 

As to Argus, see Ovid, Met. i. 625. 

362. Here Chaucer again quotes largely from Hieronymus c. 
louinianum, lib. ii. ; in Epist. (Basil. 1524), ii. 36, 37. Many of the 
passages are cited from the Vulgate, but they are all found in this 
treatise of Jerome's, which furnishes the real key. Jerome says : — 
* Per tria mouetur terra, quartum autem non potest ferre ; si seruus 
regnet, et stultus si saturetur panibus, et odiosa uxor (see 1. 366) si 
habeat bonum uirum, et ancilla si eiciat dominam suam. Ecce et hie 
inter malorum magnitudinem uxor ponitur'; p. '},']. Really quoted 
from Prov. xxx. 21-23. 

371. Again from Jerome, p. 37 : * Infernus, et amor mulieris, et 
terra quae non satiatur aqua, et ignis non dicit " satis est." ' Really 
from Prov. xxx. 16, where the A. V. has ' the grave ' instead of 'hell.' 
Note that Jerome here has a7)ior viulieris, though the Vulgate has os 
uuluae. The passage is quoted in E., with dicent for dicit. 

373. wylde fyt; wild fire ; i. e. fiercely burning fire, probably with 
reference to lighted naphtha or the like. Chaucer again uses the 
term in the Pers. Tale, I. 445. Greek fire was of a like character. In 
the Romance of Rich. Coer de Lion, 1. 2627, we find : — 

* King Richard, oute of hys galye, 
Caste loylde-fyr into the skye. 
And fyr Gregeys into the see, 
And al on fyr wer[en] the[y] . . . 
The see brent all 0^ fyr Gregeys^ 

Thus the Greek fire, at any rate, w^as not quenched by the sea. See 
La Chimie au moyen age, par M. Berthelot, p. 100. 

376. From Jerome (p. 36): — 'Sicut in ligno uermis, ita perdit 
uirum suum uxor malefica.' Quoted in the margin of E., whh. ^erdei 
for perdit. Cf. ' Sicut . . uermis ligno,' Prov. xxv. 20 (Vulgate) ; not 
in the A. V. 

378. Jerome has (p. 39): — 'Nemo enim melius scire potest quid 
sit uxor uel mulier, illo qui passus est.' (Quoted in E.) 

386. byte and whyne, i.e. both bite (when in a bad temper) and 
whine or whinny as if wanting a caress (when in a good one). It is 
made clearer by the parallel line in Anelida, 1. 157, on which see my 
note in vol. i. p. 535. 

389. Cf. our proverb — ' first come, first served.' Hazlitt quotes the 
medieval Lat. proverb — ' Ante molam primus qui venit, non molat 
imus.' And Mr. Wright quotes the French proverb of the fifteenth 
century — ' Qui premier vient au moulin premier doit mouldre.' Cot- 
grave, s. v. Mouldre, has the same ; with arrive {ox vient, and le premier 
for premier. 

392. Jiir lyve, i. e. during their (whole) life. With 11. 393-6, cf. Le 
Rom. de la Rose, 14032-42. 


399. colour, pretext ; as in Acts, xxvii. 30. 

401. In the margin of Cp. and Ln. is the medieval line : ' Fallere, 
flere, nere, dedit Deus in muliere.' Pt. has the same, with statuit for 

406. grucdnng, grumbling ; mod. Y., grudge. HI. has chidy7ig. 

407. Suggested by the complaint of a jealous man to his wife, in Le 
Roman de la Rose, 9129 : — 

'Car quant ge vous voil embracier 
Por besier et por solacier,' &c. 

414. ' Everything has its price.' 

415. This proverb has occurred before ; see A. 4134. Lydgate 
quotes it in st. 2 of a poem with the burden — ' Lyk thyn audience, so 
utter thy langage '; see Polit., Relig., and Love Poems, ed. Fumivall, 
p. 25, 1. 15. John of Salisbury says : — ' Veteri celebratur prouerbio : 
quia uacuae manus temeraria petitio est '; Policraticus, lib. v. c. 10. 

418. Cf. 1. 417. Bacon was considered as a common food for rustics. 
Cf. * bacon-fed knaves '; i Hen. IV. ii. 2. 88. It is not worth while to 
discuss the matter further. 

430. cojiclusioun, purpose, aim, object. 

432. Wilkin was evidently, like Malle or Afalkin, a name for a pet 
lamb or sheep ; see B. 4021. In this line {\i jnekelyhe. trisyllabic, and 
lok'ih monosyllabic), the word oitr-e is dissyllabic, which is not common 
in Chaucer. 

433. ba, kiss ; see note to A. 3709. 

435. spyced conscience, scrupulous conscience ; see note to A. 526. 
446. Peter, by St. Peter ; cf. Hous of Fame, 1034, 2000 ; also 
G. 665, and the note ; and B. 1404. I shrew e you, I beshrew you. 

460. This story is from Valerius Maximus ; Pliny tells it of one 
Mecenius. In the margin of E., the reference is exactly given, viz. to 
'Valerius, lib. 6. cap. 3,' which is quite right. I quote the passage: 
' Egnatii autem Metelli longe minori de caussa ; qui uxorem, quod 
vinum bibisset, fuste percussam interemit. Idque factum non accusatore 
tantum, sed etiam reprehensore caruit ; unoquoque existimante, optimo 
illam exemplo violatae sobrietatis poenas pependisse.' — Valerii Maximi 
lib. vi. c. 3. Cf. Pliny, xiv. 13 ; Tertullian, Apologeticus, 6. Chaucer 
twice quotes again the same chapter ; see notes to 11. 642, 647. 

464. jHosie I thinke, I must (needs) think. For tnoste, Cm. has 
?nuste, Ln. must. So also moste = m.nsi, in 1. 478. 
467. From Le Roman de la Rose, 13656 : — 
' Car puis que fame est enyvree 
II n'a point en li de deffense.' 
Cf. Ovid, Art. Amat. iii. 765 ; &c. 
469. Cf. Le Roman de la Rose, 1 31 36 : — 

' Par Diex ! si me plest-il encores : 
Quant ge m'i sui bien porpens^e, 
Moult me ddlite en ma pens^e, 


Et me resbaudissent li membre, 
Quant de mon bon tens me remembre, 
Et de la jolivete vie 
Dont mes cuers a si grant envie.' 

And again, just above, 1. 13 128 : — 

* Mes riens n'i vaut le regreter ; 
Qui est aid, ne puet venir,' &c. 

These lines fonn part of the speech of La Vieille, on whom the Wife 
of Bath is certainly modelled ; cf. note to A. 461. 

483. loce, in Latin Judocus, a Breton saint, whose day is Dec. 13, 
and who died in A. D. 669. Alban Butler says that his hermitage became 
a famous monastery, which stood in the diocese of Amiens, and was 
called St. Josse-sur-mer. This part of France became familiar to many 
Englishmen in the course of the wars of Edward II L See, however, 
Le Testament de Jean de Meung, 461-4, which I take to mean : — 
' When dame Katherine sees the proof of Sir Joce, who cares not 
a prune for his wife's love, she is so fearful that her own husband will 
do her a hke harm, that she often makes for him a staff of a similar 
bit of wood'; F. 'Si li refait sovent d'autel fust une croce.' It is 
obvious that Chaucer has copied this in 1. 484, and that he here found 
his rime to croce. 

484. ' I made a stick for him of the same wood ' ; i. e. I retaliated by 
rousing his jealousy ; compare the last note. Croce, a staff, O. F. 
croce, F. crosse; see Crochem the New E. Dictionary. Cf. Prompt. 
Parv., p. 103, note 5 ; and my note to P. Plowm. C. xi. 92. 

487. In Hazlitt's Proverbs is given — ' To fry in his own grease,' from 
Heywood ; it is explained to mean ' to be very passionate,' but means 
rather ' to torment oneself.' He also quotes, from Heywood : — 

* She fryeth in hir owne grease, but as for my parte, 
If she be angry, beshrew her angry harte.' 

See also Rich. Coer de Lion, 4409; Lydgate's Temple of Glas, 
ed. Schick, pp. 14, 94. 

492. The story is given by Jerome, in the treatise so often quoted 
above. ' Legimus quendam apud Romanos nobilem, cum eum amici 
arguerent quare uxorem formosam et castam et diuitem repudiasset, 
protendisse pedem, et dixisse eis : Et hie soccus quern cernitis, uidetur 
uobis nouus et elegans, sed nemo scit praeter me ubi me premat.' — 
Hieron. c. louinianum, lib. i. : Epist. ii. 52 (Basil. 1524). John of 
Salisbury has the same story, almost in the same words, but gives the 
name of the noble Roman, viz. P. Cn. Graecinus. See his Policraticus, 
lib. V. c. 10. Chaucer alludes to it again below, in E. 1553. 

495. She went thrice to Jerusalem ; see A. 463. 

496. ' Across the arch which usually divides the chancel from the 
nave in English churches was stretched a beajii, on which was placed 
a rood, i. e. a figure of our Lord on the cross.' — Bell. 

498. In the margin of E. is the note : — * Appelles fecit mirabile opus 


in tumulo Darij : vnde in Alexandre, libro sexto.' There is a similar 
sidenote at C. i6 ; see note to that line. This tomb of Darius is due 
to fiction. The description of it occurs (as said) in the sixth book of 
the Alexandreid, a vast poem in Latin, by one Philippe Gualticr de 
Chatillon, a native of Lille and a canon of Tournay, who flourished 
about A. D. 1 200. According to this poet, the tomb was the work of 
a Jewish artist named Apellcs. See Lounsbury, Studies in Chaucer, 
ii. 353-5, and G. Douglas, ed. Small, i. 134. 

503. There is a parallel passage in Le Rom. de la Rose, 14678-99. 

514. daungerous, sparing, not free ; cf. 1. 151. 

517. IVayle, observe, watch ; 'observe what thing it is that we have 
a difficulty in obtaining.' 

52L * With great demur (or caution) we set forth all we have to sell.' 
With daitnger implies that the seller makes a great difficulty of selling 
things, i.e. drives a hard bargain, and makes a great favour of it. 
Withoute daunger means without opposition, or without resistance ; 
Cower, C. A. v. ii. p. 40. 

Outen^ put out, set out or forth, is from A. S. ntian, verb, a derivative 
of iii, out. Both here and in G. 834, Tyrwhitt needlessly alters the 
reading to iitlren, against all the MSS. The note in Bell's Chaucer 
says — ' Difficulty in making our market makes us bring out all our 
ware for sale '; which is utterly remote from the true sense, and would 
be the conduct of a reckless, not of a cautious woman. Compare the 
next two lines. 

522. ' A great throng of buyers makes ware dear (because there is 
then great demand) ; and offering things too cheaply makes people 
think they are of little value (because there is then too ready a supply).' 
Hence the wise woman is careful not to be in too great a hurry to sell ; 
and such is the meaning of 1. 521. It is further implied that, when 
she gets her expected price, she does not hold out for a higher one. 

552. From Le Rom. de la Rose, 9068, which again is from Ovid. 

* Spectatum ueniunt, ueniunt spectentur ut ipsae ' ; Art. Amat. i. 99. 

553. 'How could I knowwhere my favour was destined to be bestowed?' 

555. From Le Rom. de la Rose, 13726 : — 

' Sovent voise h, la mestre eglise, 
Et face visitacions, 
A noces, k processions, 
A geus, k festes, a karoles,' &c. 

556. vigiUes, festivals held on the eves or vigils of saints' days. 
See note to A. y]"]. 

557. For ^recking, Cm. has prechyngis, and HI. p7'echwg's ; but all 
the rest have /r^t:/«V;^, which I therefore retain. To prechtfig mt^r\s 
' to any place where a sermon was being preached ' ; much as we say 

* to church.' But the sermons were often given in the open air. The 
Wife's object was to go wherever there was a concourse of people, in 
order to shew her best clothes. Women still go ' to church ' for a like 


reason. Wycliff speaks strongly of the evil of pilgrimages ; see his 
Works, ed. Matthew, p. 279 ; ed. Arnold, i. 83. 

558. 'The miracle-plays were favourite occasions for people to 
assemble in great numbers.' — Wright. Wright refers to a tale among 
his Latin Stories, p. 100, See the Sermon against Miracle-Plays, in 
Reliquiae Antiquae, ii. 42 ; reprinted in Matzner's Sprachproben, ii. 224. 

559. ' And wore upon (me) my gay scarlet gowns.' The use of upon 
without a case following it is curious ; but see D. 1018, 13S2 below. 

The woxdigyte occurs again in A. 3954, where Simkin's wife wears 
'■z.gyte of reed,' i.e. a red gown. Nares shews that it is used thrice by 
Gascoigne, and once by Fairfax. The sense of ' robe ' will suit the 
passage there quoted. Skelton has gyle in Elynour, 1. 68, where 
the sense of ' robe ' or ' dress ' is certain. It is clearly the same word as 
the Lowland Scotch gyde^ a dress, robe ; see note to A. 3954 (p. 118). 
That the word meant both * veil ' and ' gown ' appears from the fact 
that Roquefort explains the derived O. F. wiart as a veil with which 
women co-\er their faces ; whilst Godefroy explains its variant form 
guiart as a dress or vestment. 

560. The sense is ; ' the worms, moths, and mites never fretted them 
(i. e. my dresses) one whit ; I say it at my peril.' There is no difficulty, 
and the reading is quite correct. Yet Tyrsvhitt altered peril ioparaille, 
which he explains by 'apparel,' and Wright actually explains ^^r^/, in 
the Karl. MS., in the same way ! Such an explanation turns the whole 
into nonsense, as it could then only mean : ' the worms, &c. never 
devoured iliemselves {\) at all upon my apparel.' Tyrwhitt evidently 
took it to mean * never ^rf themselves upon (i.e. with) my apparel'; 
but it is impossible \hdiX.frele hem could ever be so interpreted. Frete 
can only mean * devoured,' and it requires an accusative case ; this 
accusative is hem, which can only refer to \}cv& gytes or 'gowns.' And 
this leaves no other sense for ^^«7 except precisely 'peril,' which is of 
course right. Upon viy peril is clearly a phrase, with the same sense 
as ' at my peril.' The phrase is no recondite one ; cf. Rich. III. iv. i. 
26, where we find 'on my peril'; and again, 'upon his peril,' in 
Antony, v. 2. 143 ; Cymbeline, v. 4. 189. 

566. ofmypurveyancey owing to my prudence, or prudent foresight ; 
cf. 1. 570. Purveyance, provideiice, and prudence are mere variants; 
from Lat. prouidefilia. 

572. From Le Rom. de la Rose, 13354 :— 
' Moult a soris povre secors, 
Et fait en grant peril sa druge, 
Qui n'a c'ung partuis k refuge. 
Tout ainsinc est-il de la fame,' &c. 
In Kemble's Solomon and Saturn, p. 57, several parallel proverbs are 
given; e.g.— 

' Mus miser est antro qui tantum clauditur uno.' 
' Dolente la souris qui ne seit c'un pertuis.' 

He refers us to Collins' Diet, of Span. Proverbs, p. 36 ; MS. Harl. 

* * * .. 


3362, fol. 40 ; Griiter, Florilegium Ethico-politicum, p. 32 ; G. Herbert, 
Jacula Prudentum, p. 67 ; MS. Proverbs, Corp, Chr. Cam, no, 450 ; 
MS, Harl, 1800, fol. 37 b. The proverb in Herbert is — 'The mouse 
that hath but one hole is quickly taken '; cf. Hazlitt's Proverbs, p, 380. 

575, *I made him believe'; see above, enc/tan/ei/, bewitched, \h. 
with philtres or love-potions ; according to an old belief. See Othello, 
i, 2. 63-79. Cf. also Le Rom. de la Rose, 13895 : — * Si croi que m'aves 
enchantee'; and the note to D. 747 (p. 311). 

581. 7?^'^/ occurs so frequently as an epithet oigold, that association 
of gold with blood was easy enough. See note to B. 2059 (p. 196). 

602. a coltes tooth, the tooth of a young colt. Cf. 'Young folks 
[are] most apt to love . . . the colfs&\)\. is common to all complexions'; 
Burton, Anat. of Mel. pt. 3. sec. 2. mem. 2. subsec. i, ' Yonr colt's tooth 
is not cast yet'; Hen, VIII, i. 3. 48. And see A. 3888, E. 1847. 

603. Gat-tothed \ see note to A, 468, 

604. * I bore the impress of the seal of saint Venus.' 

609, 610, Venericn, influenced by Venus ; Marcien, influenced by 
Mars; cf, 11, 611, 612, 

613. ascendent, the sign in the ascendant (or just rising in the east) 
at my birth. This sign was Taurus, which was also called ' the man- 
sion of Venus,' When Mars was seen in this sign when ascending, it 
shewed the influence of Mars on Venus, Cf. the ' Compleint of Mars.' 

In the margin of E. is a Latin note, referring us to ' Mansor Am- 
phorison' 19'; followed by a quotation. The reference is to a treatise 
called ' Almansoris Propositiones,' which begins with the words: — 
* Aphorismorum compendiolum, mi Rex, petiisti,' &c. Hence 'Am- 
phorison' 19' is an error for ' Aphorismorum 19,' This treatise is 
printed in a small volume entitled ' Astrologia Aphoristica Ptolomaei, 
Hermetis, , . , Almansoris, &c. ; Ulmae, 1641.' In this edition, the 
section quoted (at p. 66) is not 19, but 14 ; and runs thus : — ' Cuicunque 
fuerint in ascendente infortunae, turpem notam in facie patietur.' With 
' infortunae,' we must supply ' planetae '; and the object of this quota- 
tion is, clearly, to explain I. 619. Still more to the point is a remark in 
sect. 74 of a treatise printed in the same volume, entitled 'CI. Ptolomaei 
Centum Dicta'; where we find — ' Quicunque Martem ascendentem 
habet, omnino cicatricem in facie habebit.' 

Immediately after the above, in the margin of E., is a second quota- 
tion, with a reference in the words : — ' Hec Hermes in libro fiducie ; 
Amphoris °. 24°.' Here ' Amphoriswo ' should be ' Aphorismo.' The 
quotation occurs in a third treatise, printed in the same volume as the 
other two already mentioned, with the title ' Hermetis centum Aphoris- 
morum liber.' In this printed edition, the section quoted is not the 24th, 
but the 25th ; and runs thus : — ' In natiuitatibus mulierum, cum fuerit 
ascendens aliqua de domibus Veneris, Marte existente in eis [vel e 
contrario] *, erit mulier impudica. Idem erit, si Capricornum habuerit 

^ The words vel e contrario are in the margin of E., but not in the printed 


in ascendente.' Here ' aliqua . . . Veneris ' means ' one of the mansions 
of Venus ; her two mansions being Taurus and Libra.' The former is 
expressly referred to in 1. 613, and is therefore intended. 

In sect. 28 of the same treatise, we find: — 'Cum fuerit interrogatio 
pro muliere, simpliciter accipe significationem b. Venere.' Hence 
Venus is the planet that ruled over women. 

' The woman that is born in this time [i. e. under Taurus] shall be 
effectuall . . . she shall have many husbands and many children ; she 
shall be in her best estate at xvi years, and she shall have a sign in the 
middest of her body.' — Shepherdes Kalender, ed. 1656, sig. Q 5. 

618. The phrase ' la chambre Venus ' occurs in Le Rom. de la Rose, 


62L wis, surely, certainly : 'for, may God so surely be my,' &.c. 

624. ' Ne vous chaut s'il est cors ou /o/is '; Rom. de la Rose, 8554. 

634. on the list, on the ear. Such is the sense of lust in the Ancren 
Riwle, p. 212, 1. 7, where the editor mistakes it. In Sir Ferumbras, 
1. 1900, mention is made of a man striking another ' on the luste' with 
his hand. The original sense of A. S. hlyst is the sense of ' hearing '; 
but the Icel. /i/kj/ commonly means 'ear.' Cf. E. listen. For on the 
list, HI. Cm. and Tyrwhitt have luith his Jist ; but Tyrwhitt, in hisnote 
on the line, inclines to the reading here given, and quotes from Sir T. 
More's poem entitled ' A Merry Jest of a Serjeant,' the lines : — 

* And with his fist 
Upoft the lyst 

He gave hym such a blow.' 

This juvenile poem is printed at length in the Preface to Todd's 
edition of Johnson's Dictionar)', ed. 1827, i. 64. 

G40. ' Although he had sworn to the coiitrary '; see a similar use of 
this phrase in A. 1089 ; and the note at p. 65. 

642. Rojnayji gestes, the ' Roman gests,' in the collection called 
Gesta Romanorum, or stories of a like character. The reference, how- 
ever, in this case is to Valerius Maximus, lib. vi. c. 3, as is certified by 
the note in the margin of E., viz. ' Valerius, lib. vi. fol. 19.' The passage 
is: ' Horridum C. quoque Sulpicii Galli maritale supercilium. Nam 
uxorem dimisit, quod eam capite aperto foris versatam cognouerat.' 

647. This story is from the same chapter in Valerius. The passage 
is: ' Jungendus est his P. Sempronius Sophus, qui coniugem repudii 
nota afifecit, nihil aliud quam se ignorante ludos ausam spectare.' 

648. sovieres game, summer-game; called somer-ga7ne\xi P. Plow- 
man, B. V. 413 ; and, in later English, a summering ', a rural sport at 
Midsummer. The great day was on Midsummer eve, and the games 
consisted of athletic sports, followed usually by bonfires. See Brand's 
Pop. Antiquities ; Strutt, Sports and Pastimes, bk. iv. c. 3. § 22 ; the 
description of the Cotswold Games in Chambers, Book of Days, i. 714 ; 
the word Stttnmering in Nares' Glossary, &c. They were not always 
respectably conducted. 

X 2 


'Daunces, karols, somour-games, 
Of manye swych come many shames.' 

Rob. of Brunne, Handl. Synne, 1. 4684. 

*As the common sorte of vnfaythfull women are wonte to goe forth 
vnto weddynges and ;/w_>'-^«;-'/^j''; Paraphr. of Erasmus, 1549; Tim. 
f. 8. Stubbes is severe upon May-games and Whitsun-games ; see his 
Anatomy of Abuses, ed. Furnivall (Shak. Soc), p. 149. 

651. See Ecclus. xxv. 25: — 'Give the water no passage; neither 
a wicked woman hberty to gad abroad.' The Latin version is here 
quoted in the margin of E. 

655. This is clearly a quotation of some old saying, as shewn by the 
metre, which here varies, and becomes irregular. There is a slightly 
different version of it in Reliquiae Antiquae, i. 233 :— 

' Who that byldeth his howse all of salos. 
And prikketh a blynde horsse over the falowes, 
And suffereth his wif to seke many halos, 
God sende hym the blisse of everlasting galos!' 

The proverb implies that these three things are the signs of a foolish 
man. Salwes are osiers ; the osier is commonly CTiWtd sally in Shrop- 
shire, and the same name is given to all kinds of willows. It is not 
from the Lat. salix directly, but from the native A.S. sealk, which is 
merely cognate with salzx, not borrowed from it. The three foolish 
things to do are ; to build a house all of osiers, to spur a blind horse 
over a fallow-field, and to allow a wife to go on a pilgrimage. To go 
on a pilgrimage is here called 'to seek hallows,' i.e. saints, or saints' 
shrines ; and the expression was a common one ; cf. A. 14. ' Gone to 
seke hallows ' occurs in Skelton, i. 426, 1. 7, ed. Dyce ; and the editor 
quotes two more examples at p. 337 of vol. ii. 

659. ' I do not care the value of a haw for his proverbs.' In 1. 660, 
«^ stands for ne of; see footnote. 

662. 'Si het quicunques Ten chastoie'; Rom. de la Rose, 10012. 

669. This book was evidently a MS. containing several choice extracts 
from various authors ; see 1. 681. 

67L Valerie. This refers to a treatise which Mr. Wright attributes 
to Walter Mapes, entitled Epistola Valerii ad Rufinum, and common 
in manuscripts ; the subject is, De 7ion ducenda tixore. See Warton, 
Hist. E. Poetr>', 1840, ii. i£8, note. 'As to the rest of the contents of 
this volume, Hieronymus contra Jovinianum, and Tertullian de Pallio 
are sufficiently known ; and so are the letters of Eloisa and Abelard, 
the Parables of Solomon, and Ovid's Art of Love. I know of no Tro- 
tula but one, whose book Curandarum aegritudinum muliebrium, ante, 
in, et post partum, is printed int. Medicos antiques, Ven. 1547. What 
is meant by Crisippus, I cannot guess.' — Tyrwhitt. 

Theofraste, Theophrastus, i. e. the treatise mentioned above ; see 
note to 1. 221. It is frequently quoted above ; see notes to 11. 221, 235, 
257,271,282,285,293, 303. He is called Theo/rales'm Le Roman, 1. 8599. 


676. Teriiclan, Tertullian. I do not quite understand why Tyrwhitt 
(see note to 1. 671) singled out his treatise De Pallio, which is a treatise 
recommending the wearing of the Qx^q}^ pallium in preference to the 
Roman toga. Quite as much to the present purpose are his treatises 
De Exhortatione Castitatis, dissuading a friend from marrying a second 
time ; and De Monogamia and De Pudicitia, much to the same purport. 

677. Crisippus, Chrysippus. There were at least two of this name: 
(l) the Stoic philosopher, born B.C. 280, died 207, praised by Cicero 
(Academics) and Horace. Also (2) the physician of Cnidos, in the 
time of Alexander the Great, frequently mentioned by Pliny. It is 
highly probable that neither the Wife of Bath nor Chaucer knew much 
about him. The poet certainly caught the name from Jerome's treatise 
against Jovinian, near the end of bk. i. ; Epist. i. 52. We there find : — 
* Ridicule Chrysippus ducendam uxorem sapienti praecipit, ne louem 
Gamelium et Genethlium uiolet.' 

Helo-wys, Heloise, niece of Fulbert, a canon in the cathedral of 
Paris, was secretly married to the celebrated Abelard, a proficient in 
scholastic learning. She afterwards became a nun in the convent of 
Argenteuil, of which she was, in course of time, elected the prioress. 
Thence she removed, with her nuns, to the oratory of the Paraclete, 
near Troyes, where the last twenty years of her life were spent. She 
died in 1164, and was buried in Abelard's tomb. I have no doubt 
at all that Chaucer derived his knowledge of her from the short 
sketch of her life given in Le Roman de la Rose, 11. 8799-8870, where 
the title of 'abbess' (F. abdesse) is conferred upon her. Only a few 
lines above, we find the name of Valerius, who (it is there said, at 
1. 8727) declared that a modest woman was rarer than a phoenix ; 
and again, at 1. 8759, we find : * Si cum Valerius raconte '; and, at 

1. 8767:— ,,r , • • , , • 

' V alerius qui se doloit 
De ce que Rufin se voloit 
Marier,' &c. 

This identifies Valerius as being the very one, whose name Walter 
Mapes assumed ; as is explained above (note to 1. 671). 

As to Trotula, I may here observe, in addition to what is said in 
the note to 1. 671, that Warton mentions a MS. in Merton College, 
with the title ' Trottula Mulier Salemiterna de passionibus mulierum'; 
another copy (which I have seen) is in the Camb. Univ. Library. 
He adds — ' there is also extant, " Trottula, seu potius Erotis medici 
muliebrium liber "; Basil. 1586 ; 4to.' See Warton, Hist. E. Poet. 1840, 
ii. 188, }iote. 

692. pcintede, depicted ; alluding to the fable in /Esop, where 
a sculptor represented a man conquering a lion. The lion's criticism 
was to the effect that he had heard of cases in which the lion conquered 
the man. So likewise, the Wife's view of clerks differed widely from 
the clerk's view of wives. In the margin of E. is the note — ' Quis 
pinxit leonem ? ' The fable is amongst the ' Fables of ^sop ' as 


printed by Caxton, lib. iv. fab. 15 ; see Jacobs' edition, i. 251. In 
his note upon the sources of this fable, Mr. Jacobs refers us to — 
'Romulus, iv. 15. Man and Lion (statue), i. Loqman, 7; Sophos, 
58. IL Plutarch, Apophth., Laced. 69; Scol. Eurip., Kor., 103; 
Aphth. 38 ; Phaedrus, App. Burm., p. 20 ; Gabr., i. (not in Babrius) ; 
Avian, 24. IIL Ademar, 52; Marie, 69; Berach., 56; Wright, ii. 28. 
IV. Kirch., i. 80 ; Lafontaine, iii. 10 ; Rob., Oest. V. Spectator, no. 
II ; L. 100, J. 84; Croxall, 30 (Lion and Statue).' 

It is well put by Steele, in The Spectator, no. 1 1 : 'Your quotations 
put me in mind of the Fable of the Lion and the Man. The Man, 
walking with that noble Animal, shewed him, in the Ostentation of 
Human Superiority, a Sign of a Man killing a Lion. Upon which 
the Lionsaid verj' justly. We Lions are none of us Painters, else we could 
shew you a hundred Men killed by Lions, for one Lion killed by a 
Man.' Observe that here, as in Chaucer, the reference is to a painting, 
not to sculpture. 

696. all the mark of Adam, all beings made like Adam, i. e. all 
males. This idiomatic expression is cleared up by reference to F. 880, 
where mcrk means 'image' or 'likeness '; see that passage. 

697. The children of Mercurie are the clerks, and those of Venus 
are the ivomen ; see 11. 693, 694. See below. 

699, 700. Here the reference is to astrology. The whole matter is 
explained in a side-note in E., which is copied from § 2 of Almansoris 
Astrologi Propositiones (see note to 1. 613 above), and requires some 
correction. It should run as follows: — ' Vniuscuiusque planetarum 
septem exaltacio in illo loco esse dicitur, in quo substantialiter patitur ab 
alio contrarium, veluti Sol in Ariete, qui Saturni casus est. Sol enim 
habet claritatem, Satumus tenebrositatem. . . . Et sic Mercurius in 
Virgine, qui casus est Veneris. Alter [scilicet Mercurius] namque 
significat scientiam et philosophiam. Altera vero causat alacritates et 
quicquid est saporiferum corpori.' I take this to mean, that the sign 
which is called the ' exaltation ' of one planet (in which it exhibits 
its greatest influence) is also the ' dejection ' of another which is there 
weakest. Thus the sign Virgo was the ' exaltation ' of Mercuiy ; but 
it was also the ' dejection ' of Venus, whose ' exaltation ' was in Pisces. 
For the dejection of every planet occurs in the sign opposite to that 
in which is its exaltation ; and Virgo and Pisces are opposite. The 
word casus is here used in the astrological sense of ' dejection.' It 
further follows that Pisces was the 'depression' of Mercury', which 
Chaucer expresses by the term desolat. The note also tells us that 
the planet Mercury implies 'science and philosophy'; whilst Venus 
implies 'lively joys and w-hatever is agreeable to the body.' 

Venus is again alluded to as being in her exaltation in Pisces, in 
F. 273. Gower refers to Virgo as being the exaltation of Mercury ; 
Conf. Amant. iii. 121. 

715. Eva, Eve. The spelling Eva is frequently contrasted with that 
of Ave, the salutation of Gabriel to Mary. Tyrwhitt says : — ' Most 


of the following instances are mentioned in the Epistola Valerii ad 
Rufinum de non ducenda uxore. See also Rom. de la Rose, 9140, 
9615, et suiv.' In Me'on's edition of Le Rom. de la Rose, Deianira is 
mentioned in 1. 9235, and Samson in 1. 9243 ; I do not quite make out 
Tyrwhitt's numbering of the lines. 

721. Cf. the Monkes Tale, B. 3205, 3256. 

725. Cf. the Monkes Tale, B. 3285, 3310. 

727. From Jerome against Jovin., lib. i. (near the end) ; Epist. i. 52. 
'Socrates Xantippen et Myron neptem Aristidis duas habebat uxores 
. . . Quodam autem tempore cum infinita conuicia ex superiori loco 
ingerenti Xantippae restitisset, aqua perfusus immunda, nihil amplius 
respondit, quhm, capite deterso : Sciebam (inquit) futurum, ut ista 
tonitrua hymber sequeretur.' The story is thus told by Erasmus, 
as translated by Udall. * Socrates, after that he had within dores 
forborne his wife Xantippe, a greate while scoldyng, and at the last 
beyng wearie, had set him doune without the strete doore, she beyng 
moche the more incensed, by reason of her housbandes quietnesse and 
stilnesse, powred down a pisse-bolle upon him out of a windore, and 
al beraied him. But upon soche persones as passed by, laughing and 
hauing a good sport at it, Socrates also, for his part, laughed again as 
fast as the best, saiyng : Naie, I thought verie well in my minde, and 
did easily prophecie, that after so great a thonder would come a raine.' 
— Udall, tr. of Erasmus' Apophthegmes, Socrates, § 59. 

733. These instances are also from Jerome, some twenty lines further 
on (same page). ' Quid referam Pasiphacn, Clytemnestram, et Eri- 
phylam ; quarum prima deliciis diffluens, quippe regis uxor, tauri 
dicitur expetisse concubitus : altera occidisse uirum ob amorem 
adulteri : tertia prodidisse Amphiar[a]um, et saluti uiri monile aureum 
praetulisse.' This passage is quoted, almost in the same words, in 
the margin of E. As to Eriphyle, Chaucer shews that he possessed 
further information, as he mentions Thebes. He consulted, in fact, 
the Thebaid of Statius, bk. iv, where we learn that Eriphyle betrayed 
her husband Amphiaraus, for a golden necklace ; he was thus forced 
to accompany Polynices to the siege of Thebes, where he perished by 
being swallowed up by an earthquake. Chaucer again calls him 
Amphiorax in AneHda, 57, and in Troilus, ii. 105, v. 1500, Cf. Lyd- 
gate's Siege of Thebes, part 3. 

747. Tyrwhitt says :— ' In the Epistola Valerii, in MS. Reg. 12. D. 
iii. [in the British Museum], the story is told thus : " Luna virum 
suum interfecit quern nimis odivit : Lucilia suum quem nimis ama\it. 
Ilia sponte miscuit aconita : haec decepta furorem propinavitpro amoris 
poculo." Lima and Luna in many MSS. are only distinguishable by 
a small stroke over the ?', which may easily be overlooked where it is, 
and supposed where it is not.' However, the right name is neither 
Lima nor Luna, but Liuia (Livia), which is easily confused with 
either of the other forms. Livia poisoned her husband Drusus (son of 
Tiberius), at the instigation of Sejanus, .\. D. 23. See Ben Jonson's 


Sejanus, Act ii, sc. i. Lucia (or rather Lucilia) was the wife of 
Lucretius the poet ; see Tennyson's poem of Lucretius (Lounsbury, 
Studies in Chaucer, ii. 369). 

757. This is a stock storj', told of various people. Tyrwhitt says 
that it occurs in the Epistola Valerii, of one Pavorifius, and that the 
story begins : — ' Pavorinus flens ait Arrio.' Lounsbuiy (Studies in 
Chaucer, ii. 369) referring to the same story, gives the name as Pacu- 
vius. It is, in fact, one of the stories in the Gesta Romanorum (tale 
33), where it is ascribed to Valerius, (By Valerius is, of course, 
meant the Epistola Valerii of Walter Mapes, where it duly appears, 
as Tyrwhitt notes, and may be found in MS. Reg. 12. D. iii ; as is 
observed by Sir F. Madden, in a note to Warton's Hist. E. Poet., ed. 
Hazlitt, 1871, i. 250. It does not refer to Valerius Maximus, as I have 

In the Gesta, it is told of Paletinus, who lamented to his friend 
Arrius that a certain tree in his garden was fatal, for three of his wives 
had, successively, hung themselves upon it. Arrius at once begged to 
have some slips of it ; and Paletinus 'found this remarkable tree the 
most productive part of his estate,' 

The story is really from Cicero, De Oratore, lib. ii. 69 ; 278. 'Salsa 
sunt etiam, quae habent suspicionem ridiculi absconditam ; quo in 
genere est illud Siculi, cum familiaris quidam quereretur, quod diceret, 
uxorem suam suspendisse se de ficu. Amabo te, inquit, da inihi ex 
ista arbore^ quos serum, surculos^ 

Thus the original story only mentions one wife. This is just how 
stories grow, 

A similar story is ascribed to Diogenes. ' When he [Diogenes] had 
on a time espied women hanging upon an olive-tree, and there strangled 
to death with the halters : Would God (said he) that the other trees had 
like fruite hanging on them ! ' — Udall, tr, of Erasmus' Apophthegmes, 
Diogenes, § 124. 

766. The horrible story of ' the Widow of Ephesus ' is 'bf this 
character, but not quiie so bad, as her husband died naturally. See 
Wright's introduction to his edition of The Seven Sages, p. Ixvi ; and 
the text of the same, pp. 84-9, It occurs in John of Sahsbury, Poli- 
craticus, viii, 11, And see Exempla of Jacques de Vitry, ed. Crane, 
1890, p. 228 ; Clouston's Pop. Tales, i. 29. 

769. Alluding, doubtless, to Jael and Sisera ; see note to A. 2007. 

775. ' I had rather dwell with a lion and a dragon, than to keep 
house with a wicked woman'; Ecclus. xxv. 16. Cf. Prov. xxi. 19. 

778, From Prov. xxi. 9 ; and 11. 780, 781 seem to have been suggested 
by the following verse (xxi, 10). 

782. This is from Jerome, near the end of bk. i. of his treatise against 
Jovinian (p. 52) : — 'Scribit Herodotus, quod mulier cum ueste deponat 
et uerecundiam.' This again is from Herodotus, bk. i. c. 8, where it 
is told as a saying of Gyges : — cl/xa hi Kidavi exSvo/^teVo), o-vveKdverai kuI 
Tqv alba> yvvT], 


784. From Prov. xi. 22. 

799. breyde, started, woke up. The A.S. verb bregdan is properly 
a strong verb, with the pt. t. brccgd\ so that the true form of the pt. t. 
in M.E. is breyd, without a final e. But it was turned into a weak 
verb, with the pt. t. breyd-e (as here), by confusion with such verbs as 
seyd-e, deyd-e, leyd-e, and the like. It is remarkable that our author 
is inconsistent in the use of the form for the pt. t. In his earlier poems, 
he has the older form abj-ayd, riming with sayd (pp.), Book of the 
Duch. 192; or abreyd, riming with styd (pp.), Ho. of Fame, no. 
But in the Cant. Tales, we find only the weak form breyd-e, riming 
with seyd-e, preyd-e, and deyd-e, B. 3728 ; with seyd-e, leyd-e, B. ?>i7 ; 
and with seyd-e, A. 4285, F. 1027. Also abreyd-e, riming with seyd-e, 
deyd-e, A. 4190, E. 106 1. 

816. This is one of the ways in which our MSS. have perished. 

824. Cf. 'from Hulle to Cartage'; A. 404; and see C. 722. 

844. now elles, now otherwise ; i. e. and so you may ; I defy you. 

847. Sidingborne, Sittingbourne, about forty miles from London, 
and beyond Rochester, which is mentioned in the Monk's Prologue, 
B. 31 16. 

The Tale of the Wyf of Bathe. 

For a discussion of the source of this Tale, see vol. iii. p. 447. 

A ver^' similar story occurs in Gower's Confessio Amantis, bk. i. 
(p. 89, Pauli's edition), where the hero of the story is named Florent, and 
is said to have been a grandson of the Roman Emperor Claudius. 

It also occurs in the Book of Ballymote, an Irish MS. of the four- 
teenth century. The Irish text was printed, together with a trans- 
lation by Dr. Whitley Stokes, in The Academy, Apr. 23, 1892, p. 399. 
Dr. Stokes claims for the Tale a Celtic origin. See also The Academy, 
Apr. 30, 1892. 

Chaucer's Tale has been modernised by Dryden. This later version 
contains many spirited lines, but lacks the grace of the original. It is 
interesting as a commentary, and is worth comparison. 

This Tale has been well edited, with notes, in Matzner's Altenglische 
Sprachproben, i. 338. 

857. The author of the spurious Pilgrim's Tale, which, it is said, 
William Thynne wished to insert in his edition of Chaucer, has 
plagiarised from the opening lines of the Wife of Bath's Tale in the 
coolest manner. I quote some of his lines, for comparison, from 
Thynne's Animadversions, &c., ed. Furnivall, Appendix I., p. 79, 11. 
85-98 :- 

' The cronikis old from kynge Arthur 
He could rehers, and of his founder 
Tell full many a whorthy story. 
Wher this man walked, there was no farey 


Ner other spiritis, for his blessynges 

And munbling of his holy thinges 

Did vanquyche them from euery buch and tre : 

There is no nother incubus but he ; 

P'or Chaucer sathe, in the sted of the quen elfe, 

"Ther walketh now the limitour himself." 

For whan that the incubus dyd fle, 

Yt was to bringe .vii. worse than he ; 

And that is the cause there beyn now no fareys 

In hallis, bowris, kechyns, ner deyris.' 

For a general discussion of the legends about King Arthur, see the 
essay in vol. i. (p. 401) of the Percy Folio MS., ed. Hales and Fumivall. 
In Malory's Morte Arthure we have an example of a fairy in Arthur's 
sister, Morgan le Fay, who was ' put to scole in a nonner>' ; and ther 
she lemed so moche that she was a grete clerke of nygromancye '; 
bk. i. cap. 2. 

860. elf-queen, Proserpine, according to Chaucer ; see E. 2229 ; also 
B. 754, 1978, and the notes. 

861. Hence the 'fairy-rings,' as Dr>-den tells us: — 

'And where the jolly troop had led the round, 
The grass unbidden rose, and mark'd the ground.' 
On the subject of Fairies, see Keightley's Fairy Mythology, and 
similar works. Tyrwhitt notes that few old authors tell us so much 
about them as Ger\ase of Tilbur)'. 

866. Ivniiours, limiters ; see A. 209, and the note; D. 1 711; 
P. Plowman, B. v. 138, C. xxiii. 346 ; Massingberd, Eng. Reformation, 
p. no. 

868. The number of mendicant friars in England, during the latter 
half of the fourteenth century, was indeed large. In Wyclif's Works, 
ed. Arnold, iii. 400, we read that * now ben mony thousand of freris in 
Englond'; and, at p. 51 1, that they were, 'as who seith, withoute 
noumbre.' In P. Plowman, C. xxiii. 269, Conscience accuses the friars 
of waxing * oute of numbre,' and reminds them that ' Hevene haveth 
evene numbre, and helle is withoute numbre.' 

869. The occurrence here of three consecutive lines (869-871) in 
which the first foot is deficient, consisting only of a single accented 
syllable, is worth notice. The way in which Tyrwhitt ' amends ' these 
lines is most surprising. He inserts and five times, and his first line 
defies scansion, though I suppose he made halVs a monosyllable, and 
>^zV/i(f«-^j- trisyllabic, whereas it plainly has but two syllables. Here 
is his result. 

* Blissing halles, chambres, kichenes, and boures, 
Citees and burghes, castles highe and toures, 
Thropes and hemes, shepenes, and dairies, 
This maketh that ther ben no faeries.' 

Note that he actually seems to have read dairies and faeries as 

LI. 860-880.] THE TALE OF THE WYF OF BATHE. 315 

riming dissyllabic words ! In which case the last of these four Hnes 
wouJd have but four accents ! But the rime merely concerns the two 
final syllables of those quadrisyllabic words. The riming of the two 
former syllables is unessential, and for the purpose of rime, accidental 
and otiose. 

MS. Pt. admits rt;/^ before botires ; and MS. HI. admits rt«^ before 
toiires and dairies (which does not alter the character of the lines). 
With these exceptions, all the seven MSS. omit all the five ands 
inserted by Tyrvvhitt ; and, in fact, they are all of them superfluous. 

For the benefit of those who are but little acquainted with this 
peculiarity of Middle English metre, I <:\\.& four consecutive lines oi 
a similar character from Lydgate's Siege of Thebes, 11. 1239-1242 : — 
' Drogh I the brydyl from his horses hede, 
Let 1 hym goon, and took no maner hede, 
Thorgh I the gardyn that enclosed was, 
Hym I to pasture on the grene gras.' 

There are plenty more of the same kind in the same poem ; e. g. 
1068, 1081, 1082, 1089, 1103, 1107, 1116, 1120, 1122, 1123, 1140, 1141, 
1 15 1, &c., &c., all printed in Specimens of English from 1394-1579, ed. 
Skeat, pp. 28-34. For similar lines in Hoccleve, see the same, p. 16, 
St. 604, 1. 6 ; St. 605, 1. 2 ; p. 20, st. 622, 1. 2 ; p. 21, st. 624, 1. 4. 

87 L Thropcs=ihorpes, villages; see E. 199. 

shipnes, stables, or cow-houses ; see A. 2000. ' Shippen, Shuppen, 
a cow-house'; E. D. S. Gloss. B. L ^Shippen, an ox-house '; id. B. 6. 
^ Sltuppen, a cow-house'; id. B. 7 ; * Shippen, a cow-house'; id. B. 15. 

875. underineles, for undern-nieles, undern-times. For the time of 
undern, see note to E. 260. Afeel (pi. meles) is the A. S. vtcel, a time. 
The time referred to, in this particular instance, seems to be the middle 
of the afternoon ; or simply ' afternoons,' as opposed to * mornings.' 
For this sense, cf. * Undermele, Postmeridies,' in the Prompt. Parv. 
Nares, s. v. iinder-fneal, gives other instances ; but he fails to realise the 
changeable sense of the word ; and is quite wrong in saying (s. v. 
undertime) that the last-named word is unconnected with undern. He 
also wrongly dissociates undern from amdern and orndern. 

876. 'All religious persons were bound, if possible, to recite the 
divine office . . at the proper hour, in the choir ; but secular priests, 
not living in common, and friars, being by their rule obliged to walk 
about within their limitation, to beg their maintenance, were allowed to 
say it privately, . . as they walked.' — Bell. Cf. B. 1281. 

880. incubus. Milton (P. R. ii. 152) speaks of Belial as being, after 
Asmodai, ' the fleshliest incubus.' Mr. Jerram's note on the line says : 
'Some of the ejected angels were believed not to have fallen into 
hell, but to have remained in the middle of the region of air (P. R. ii. 
117), where in various shapes they tempt men to sin. It was said 
that they hoped to counteract the effects of Christ's coming by engen- 
dering with some virgin a semi-demon, who should be a power of evil. 
In this way Merlin, and even Luther, were reported to have been 


begotten.' See the Romance of Merlin, ed. Wheatley, ch. i. pp. 9, 10; 
and the poem of Merlin in the Percy Folio MS. 

881. Tyrvvhitt and others adopt the reading no dishonour, as in the 
old black-letter editions; and MS. Cm. has the reading nan. At first 
sight, this looks right, but a little reflection will incline us rather to 
adopt the reading of nearly all the MSS., as given in the present text. 
For to say that the friar was an incubus, and yet did women no dis- 
honour, is contradictor>\ The meaning is, possibly, that the friar 
brought upon women dishonour, and nothing more ; whereas the 
incubus never failed to cause conception. Lounsbury (Studies in 
Chaucer, i. 257) adopts the reading here given, but interprets it thus : — 
' The dishonour of a woman is, in the eyes of the Wife of Bath, to be 
reckoned not as a crime, but as a peccadillo.' (See the whole passage.) 
The subject will hardly bear further discussion ; but it is impossible 
to ignore the repeated charges of immorality brought against the friars 
by Wyclif and others. Wyclif says — ' thei slen wommen that with- 
stonden hem in this synne'; Works, ed. Matthew, p. 6. 

884. y>'(? river^ i. e. he was returning from hawking at the river-side. 
See B. 1927, and the note. 

887. mattgree Mr heed, lit. ' in spite of her head,' i. e. in spite of all 
she could do, without her consent. Cf, A. 1169, 2618; also I. 974, 
w-here we find : — 'if the womman, viatigreehirheed, hath been afforced.' 
Matzner remarks that, in some cases, we find a part of the head 
referred to, instead of the whole head. Hence the expressions : 
vimigre his fiose, Rob. of Gloucester, 2090 (p. 94, ed. Heame) ; viaugree 
thyne yen, Ch. C. T., D. 315 ; maugree hir eycn two, id., A. 1796; 
maugree my chekes, Allit. Poems, ed. Morris, C. 54 ; m. here chekis, 
P. Plowman, B. iv. 50 ; &c. 

909. lere, learn; as in B. 181, 630, C. 325, 578, &c. But the right 
sense is ' teach.' See 1. 921. 

twelf-month, &c. ' There seems to have been some mysterious 
importance attached to this particular time of grace,' &c. — Bell. 
I think not. The solution is simply, that it takes an extra day to make 
the date agree. If we fix any date, as Nov. 21, 1890, the space of 
a year afterwards only brings us to Nov. 20, 1891 ; if we want to keep 
to the same day of the month, we must make the space include ' a year 
and a day.' This is what any one would naturally do ; and that 
is all. Cf. A. 1850, and the note. ' Year and Day, is a time that 
determines a right in many cases ; ... So is the Year and Day given 
in case of Appeal, in case of Descent after Entry or Claim,' «Scc. ; 
Cowell, Intrepreter of Words and Terms. See 1. 916 below; and cf. 
Eight days, i. e. a week, in the New Eng. Dictionary. 

922. cost, coast, i. e. region ; as in i Sam. v. 6 ; Matt. viii. 34, &c. 

924. The scansion is — Two cre-a-tiir-es d.ccordinge in-fere. 

925. Cf. Gower, Conf. Amant. i. 92 : — 

' To som woman it is plesaunce 
That to another is grevaunce'; &c. 

LI. 881-972.] THE TALE OF THE WYF OF BATHE. 317 

929-30. Cf. Rom. de la Rose, 9977-94. For y-plesed, Tyrwhitt and 
Wright read y-preised, contrary to the seven best MSS. ; which gives 
an imperfect rime, prey sed r'lmts with reysed (D. 706). 

940. galle, sore place. *■ Galle, soore yn man or beeste'; Prompt. 
Parv. ' Let the ^rt//tv^ jade wince'; Hamlet, iii. 2. 253. 

clawe means 'to scratch'; and to clawe upon the galle is to scratch 
or rub a sore. This may be taken in two ways ; hence the difficulty 
about the reading in 1. 941, where E. Cm. have/'/y^^, i.e. kick, whilst 
Hn. HI. have like, and Cp. Pt. Ln. have loke or he seith us soth. The 
last of these three variations gives no sense, and is certainly wrong ; 
but either of the other readings will serve. I take them in order. 

(i) kike, kick. Here the sense is : — * if any one scratch us on a sore 
place (and so hurt us), we shall kick, because he tells us the truth (too 
plainly).' This goes well with the context, as it answers to the 
repreve us of our vyce in 1. 937. 

(2) like, like (it), be pleased. Here the sense is : — ' if any one 
stroke us on a sore place (and so soothe the itching), we shall be 
pleased, because he tells us the truth (or what we think to be the truth).' 
But I feel inclined to reject this reading, because it gives so forced 
a sense to the words— y&r he seith us sooth. There is, however, no 
difficulty about the use of cla7i' in the sense of ' to rub lightly, so as to 
soothe irritation'; for which see examples in the New English Dictionary. 
It is particularly used in the phrase to claw one's back, i. e. to soothe, 
flatter ; but the word ^a//^ suggests a place where friction would rather 
hurt than soothe. 

I leave it to the reader to settle this nice question. 

949. rake-stele, the handle of a rake. The word stele is still in use 
provincially. * Stale, any stick, or handle, such as the stick of a mop 
or a fork'; South Warwickshire ; E. D. S. Gl. C. 6. * Stale [stae'ul], 
s. handle ; as, mop-stale, pick-stale, brooui-siale ' ; Elworthy's West 
Somerset Words. And see Steal in Ray's Glossary ; Stele in Nares ; 
Steale in Halliwell ; &c. Cf. A. 3785 ; P. Plowman, C. xxii. 279. 
Golding translates Ovid's hastile (Metam. vii. 676) by * laueling- 
steale.' The e is ' open '; cf. A. S. stela ; hence the rime with hele (A. S. 
helan) is perfect. 

950. ' Car fame ne puet riens celer'; Rom. de la Rose, 19420. See 
also the same, 16549-70. 

952. Ovyde; see Metamorph. xi. 174-193. But Chaucer seems to 
have purposely altered the story, since Ovid attributes the betrayal of 
the secret to Midas' barber, not his wife; and again, Ovid says that 
the barber dug a hole, and whispered it into the pit. Chaucer's version 
is an improved one. Cf Troil. iii. 1389. 

96L Cf. Rom. de la Rose, 16724-32. 

968. Dryden is plainer, and less polite: — 'But she must burst or 
blab.' Cf. Rom. de la Rose, 16568-9. 

972. bitore, bittern ; bumbleth, makes a bellowing noise, which is 
also expressed by bumping or bootning. Note that MS. Cm. has 


bumbith. Owing to the loud booming note of the male bittern, it is 
called in A. S. rCire-dumle or rdre-dutnbla, from rdrian, to roar; see 
Wright's Glossaries. In provincial English, it is called z butter-bump, 
or a butnble ; or, from its frequenting moist places, a bog-bwnper, a bog- 
drum, or a bull o' the bog\ see Swainson's Provincial Names of British 
Birds, E. D. S., p. 146. It was formerly thought that the cry was 
produced by the bird plunging its bill into mud and then blowing, as in 
the present passage ; others thought that it put its bill into a reed, 
a view taken by Dryden, as he here has the line : — ' And, as a bittern 
buvips within a reed! Sir T. Browne, in his Vulgar Errors, bk. iii. 
c. 27, controverts these notions, and attributes the note to the con- 
formation of the bird's organs of voice. * The same contradiction of 
the common notion is given, from personal experience, by the Rev. S. 
Fovargue, in his New Catalogue of Vulgar Errors, pp. 19-21'; note 
to Sir T. Browne, ed. S. Wilkin. The same editor further refers us to 
papers by Dr. Latham and Mr. Yarrcll in the Linnaean Transactions, 
vols, iv, XV, and xvi. See Prof. Newton's Diet, of Birds. 

98L There is not much ' remnant' of the tale; Ovid adds that some 
reeds grew out of the pit, which, when breathed upon by the South 
wind, uttered the words which had been buried. 

992. This reminds us of Chaucer's own vision of Alcestis and her 
nineteen attendant ladies in the Prologue to the Legend of Good 

997. Cf. Cower, Conf. Amantis, i. 93 : — 

' In a forest, there under a tree 
He sigh where sat a creature, 
A lothly womannish figure, 
Thati for to speke of flesshe and boon, 
So foul yet sigh he never noon.' 

Also, in the Marriage of Sir Gawaine, st. 15 : — 

* And, as he rode over a more, 

Hee see a lady where she sate 
Betwixt an oake and a greene hollen [holly] ; 

She was cladd in red scarlett. . . . 
Her nose was crooked and turnd outward, 

Her mouth stood foule a-wry ; 
A worse formed lady than shee was 

Neuer man saw with his eye.' 

1004. cari, know ; but the form is singular, to agree w'xXh folk. Cf. the 
proverb — 'older and wiser' — in Hazlitt's Collection ; and see A. 2448. 

1018. wereth on, wears upon (her), has on ; cf. 1. 559 above. 

calle, caul ; a close-fitting netted cap or head-dress, often richly 
ornamented ; see Fairholt, Costume in England, s. v. Caul. 

1021. pistell, (i) an epistle, as in E. 1154 ; hence (2), a short lesson, 
as here. 

LI. 981-1128.] THE TALE OF THE WYF OF BATHE. 319 

1024. Iiolde his day^ kept his time, come back at the specified time. 
hight, promised. 

1028. ' Queen Guenever is here represented sitting as judge in a 
' Court of Love, similar to those in fashion in later ages. . . Fontenelle 
(in the third volume of his works, Paris, 1742) has given a description 
of one of the fantastic suits tried in these courts . . . The best source 
of information on these strange follies is a book entitled Erotica, sen 
Amatoria, Aiidrece Capellarii Regis, &c., -written about A. D. 1 170, 
and published at Dorpmund in 1610.' — Bell. 

1038. Cf Gower, Conf. Amantis, i. 96 : — 

' That alle women levest wolde 
Be soverein of mannes love,' &c. 

So also in the Marriage of Sir Gawaine, st. 28 : — 

— * a woman will have her will, 
And this is all her cheef desire.' 

1069. The scansion is — ' Shold' ev'r | so foul | e dis | pard | ged be.' 
1074. It is curious to note how Chaucer seems to have felt that 
romance-writers were constrained to describe feasts, a duty which he 
usually evades. Cf. A. 2197, B. 419, 11 20, E. 17 10, F. 278. In fact, the 
original business of the minstrel was to praise his lord's bounty, 
especially on grand occasions. 

1081. So in Gower's Conf. Amantis, i. 100 : — 

' But as an oiile fleeth by nighte 
Out of all other briddes sighte, 
Right so this knight, on daies brode,' &c. 

This line, for a wonder, is unaltered by Dryden in his paraphrase. 

1085. walweth, rolls from side to side, turns about restlessly ; cf. 
Leg. Good Wom. 1 166 ; Troil. i. 699 ; Rom. Rose, 2562. 

1088. Fareth, pronounced as Far'th ; cf. tak'th in 1072, 

1090. dangerous, distant, unapproachable ; see D. 151. 

1109. Gentilesse. See my notes (in vol. i. 431, 553) on R. R, 2190, 
and Gentilesse. Compare Boethius, bk. iii. pr. 6 and met. 6 ; Roman 
de la Rose, ed. Meon, 6603-6616, and 18807-19096 ; and see B. 2831. 

1114. Zi.privee n'apert in 1. 1 136 ; 'in private and in public' 

1117. ivol we, desires that we ; see 1130 below. 

1121. Cf. Balade of Gentilesse, 11. 16, 17. 

1128. Cf. Dante, Piirgat. vii. 121 : — 

' Rade volte risurge per li rami 
L'umana probitate: e questo vuole 
Ouei che la da, perch^ da lui si chiami.' 

Gary's translation is : — 

' Rarely into the branches of the tree 
Doth human worth mount up : and so ordains 
He who bestows it, that as His free gift 
It may be called.' 


Marsh notes that similar sentiments occur in the Canzone prefixed to 
the fourth Trattato in Dante's Convito. 

1135. The general sense is — ' if gentle conduct were naturally im- 
planted in a particular family, none of that family could ever behave 
badly.' Cf. 11. 1 150, 115 1. 

' Were virtue by descent, a noble name 
Could never villanise his father's fame.' 

Dryden's paraphrase. 

1140. Chaucer's tr. of Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 7. 43, mentions 'the 
mountaigne that highte Caiicasjcs.' This is probably where he got the 
name from. Cf. Shakespeare's 'frosty Caucasus'; Rich. II. i. 3. 295. 
The whole passage is imitated from another place in Boethius, where 
Chaucer's translation has : — ' Certes, yif that honour of poeple were 
a natural yift to dignitees, itne mighte never cesen . . . to don his office, 
right as fyr in every contree ne stinteth nat to eschaufen and to ben 
hoot'; bk. iii. pr. 4. 44-8. In 1. 1139, Dr>'den merely alters in to to. 

1142, lye, i.e. blaze. * Hevene y-leyed wose syth,' whoever sees 
heaven in a blaze ; Relig. Antiq. i. 266. The sb. lye^ a flame, occurs 
in P. PI. C. XX. 172. Cf. A. S. lyg, lig, flame. 

1146-56. !Much altered and expanded in Uryden. 

1158. Cf. Rom. of the Rose, 2181 :— 

' For vilany makith vilayn ; 
And by his dedis a cherl is seyn.' 

1165. 'Incunabula Tulli Hostilii agreste tugurium cepit : ejusdem 
adolescentia in pecore pascendo fuit occupata : validior aetas imperium 
Romanum rexit, et duplicavit : senectus excellentissimis ornamentis 
decorata in altissimo majestatis fastigio fulsit.' — Valerius Maximus, lib. 
iii. c. 4 (De Humili Loco Natis). Cf. Livy, i. 22 ; Dionysius Halicar- 
nasseus, iii ; yElian, xiv. "^6. 

1168. Senek, Seneca. Boece, Boethius ; see note to 1109. 

1184. LI. 1 1 83-1 1 90 are imitated from the following; 'Honesta, inquit 
[Epicurus], res est laeta paupertas. Ilia uero non est paupertas, si laeta 
est. Cui enim cum paupertate bene conuenit, diues est. Non qui 
parum habet, sed qui plus cupit, pauper est.' — Seneca, Epist. ii. § 4. 
This passage is quoted by John of Salisbury, Policraticus, 1. vii. c. 13. 

Othere clerkes also includes Epicurus, whose sentiments Seneca here 
expresses ; see Diogenes Laertius, x. 1 1. MS. E. here quotes the words 
' honesta res est laeta paupertas ' in the margin, and refers to ' Seneca, 
in epistola.' It also has : — ' Pauper est qui eget, eo quod non habet ; 
sed qui non habet, nee appetit habere, ille diues est ; de quo intelligitur 
id Apocalypsis tertio [Rev. iii. 17] — dicis quia diues sum.' With 
1. 1 1 87 cf. Rom. de la Rose, 18766 : — 'Et convoitise fait povrece.' 

1191. All the editions adopt the reading is si7ine, as in all the MSS. 
except E. and Cm. (the two best) ; see footnote, p. 354. But surely 
this is nonsense, and exactly contradicts 1. 1 1 83. 

1192. In the margin of MS. E. are quoted two lines from Juvenal, 

LI. 1135-202] THE TALE OF THE WYF OF BATHE. 321 

Sat. X. 21,22 : — ' Cantabit uacuus coram latrone uiator ; Et nocte ad 
lumen trepidabit arundinis umbram.' The latter of these lines should 
come first, and the usual readings are motae (not nocte), lunam, and 
irepidabis. However, it is only the other (and favourite) line that is 
here alluded to. The same line is quoted in Piers Plowman, B. xiv. 
305 ; and is alluded to in Chaucer's tr. of Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 5. 129- 
130. In Wyclif's Works, ed, Arnold, ii. 364, is the remark: — 'For 
// is said co7nounli, that a wey-goer, whan he is voide, singith sure 
bi the theef.' 

1195. In the margin of E. is written: — 'Secundus philosophus : 
Paupertas est odibile bonum, sanitatis mater, curarum remocio, sapi- 
entie reparatrix, possessio sine calumpnia.' This is the very passage 
quoted, even more fully, in Piers Plowman, B. xiv. 275 (C. xvii. 117). 
Tyrwhitt's note is — * In this commendation of Poverty, our author 
seems plainly to have had in view the following passage of a fabulous 
conference between the emperor Adrian and Secundus the philosopher, 
reported by Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum Ilistoriale, lib. x. cap. 71. 
" Quid est paupertas ? Odibile bonum, sanitatis mater, remotio cura- 
rum, sapientie repertrix, negotium sine damno, possessio absque 
calumnia, sine sollicitudine felicitas." What Vincent has there 
published seems to have been extracted from a larger collection of 
Gnomae under the name of Secundus, which are still extant in Greek 
and Latin. See Fabricius, Bib. Gr., 1. vi. c. x, and MS. Karl. 399.' 
Thus 1. 1 195 is a translation of Paupertas est odibile bontwi, so that 
the proposal by Dr. Morris (Aldine edition of Chaucer, vol. i. p. vi) to 
adopt the reading hatel from MSS. Cp. Pt. Ln. instead of hateful, is 
founded on a mistake. The expression is contradictory, but it is so 
intentionally. ' Poverty is a gift which its possessors hate ' is, of course, 
the meaning. Dryden well explains it : — 

'Want is a bitter and a hateful good. 
Because its virtues are not understood.' 

1196. This translates 'remotio curarum.' 

1197. This translates 'sapientie reparatrix,' not 'repertrix.' 

1199. elenge, miserable, hard to bear. Elenge is also spelt alenge, 
alhige, alange ; see Alange in the New English Dictionary, though 
the proper form is rather aletige. It is a derivative of the intensive 
A. S. prefix ce and lenge, a secondary form of lang, long ; so that A. S. 
alenge meant protracted, tedious, wearisome, as in Alfred's tr. of 
Boethius, xxxix. 4. But it was confused with the M. E. eletid, strange, 
foreign, and so acquired the sense of * strange ' as well as ' trying ' or 
'miserable.' See Ely?ige in the Gl. to P. Plowman, and the note to 
P. PI. C. i. 204 ; also Matzner's note to the Land of Cokayne, 1. 15. 

1200. This line translates 'possessio absque calumnia.' The E. 
challenge is, in fact, derived from calumnia, through Old French. 

1202. Understand hitn : 'maketh (him) know his God and himself; 
see Dryden's paraphrase. Against this line, in the margin of MS. E., 


is written : — * Unde et Crates ille Thebanus, proiecto in mari non 
paruo auri pondcre, Abite (inquit) pessime male cupiditates ! Ego uos 
mergam, ne ipse mergar a uobis.' Probably Chaucer once intended to 
introduce this story into the text. It relates, apparently, to Crates of 
Thebes, the Cynic philosopher, who flourished about is. C. 320. 

1203. spectacle, i.e. an optic glass, a kind of telescope. In the 
modem sense, the word was used in the plural, as at present. From 
Lydgate's London Lickpenny, st. 7, we learn that ' spectacles to reede * 
was, in his time, one of the cries of London. Qi.prospectyves, i.e. per- 
spective glasses, in F. 234. Chaucer is here thinking of a passage in 
Le Roman de la Rose, where the E. version (1. 5551) has : — 
* For infortune makith anoon 
To knowe thy freendis fro thy foon.' 
This, again, is from Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 8. 22-33. Compare Chaucer's 
poem on Fortune, 11. 9, 32, 34, and my notes upon these lines ; vol. i. 

PP- 383, 544- 

1208. See note to 1. 1276 below ; and cf. D. i. 
1210. Compare C. 743, and the note. 

1215. For also, Tyrwhitt reads also so, against all authority, as he 
admits. The text is right as it stands. Eld-e is dissyllabic, the final 
e being preserved by the caesura ; and also means no more than ' so.' 
I suspect this is quoted from some French proverb. Dryden alters 
'filth' to 'ugliness.' 

1224. repair, great resort, viz. of visitors. 

1234. ' I care not which of the two it shall be.' Cf. Gower, Conf. 
Amantis, i. 103 :— 

' Chese for us bothe, I you praie, 
And what as ever that ye sale. 
Right as ye woUe, so wol I. 
My lord, she saide, grauntmercy. 
For of this word that ye now sain, 
That ye have made me soverein. 
My destine is overpassed'; (S:c. 

1260. toverbyde, to over-bide, to outlive. Tyrwhitt substitutes to 
overlive, from the black-letter editions. Gra-ce is dissyllabic. 

1261. shorte, shorten ; see D. 365. 

The Friar's Prolog:ue. 

1276. aucioriiees \ a direct reference to 1. 1208 above. This goes 
. / far to show that the Friar's Tale was written immediately after 
the Wife's Tale. The Friar says, quite truly, that the Wife's Tale 
contains passages not unlike ' school-matter,' or disquisitions in the 
schools. Such a passage is that in 11. 1 109-1212. Tyrwhitt shews that 
auctoritas was the usual word applied to a text of scripture ; Bell 
adds, that it was applied, as now, to afty authority for a statement. 
/ We might very well translate auctoritees by ' quotations,' 

LI.K03-323.] THE FRERES TALE. 323 

1284. jnandemeftts, 'citations, or summonses, addressed to those 
accused of breaches of the canons, to appear and answer in the arch- 
deacon's court ' ; Bell. Hence the name somnour, i. e. a server of 

1285. tonnes ende (whence the name To-cvnscnd) ; we should now 
say, 'at the entry to every town'; cf. 1. 1537. The Somnour was 
often opposed with violence, and was a very unpopular character. 

1294. The limiters had to cultivate the art of flattery, because they 
lived by begging from house to house. 

*:ic* After this line all the MSS. (except HI.) wrongly insert lines 
1307, 1308 (on p. 359). Perhaps the poet himself introduced these 
lines here at first, and afterwards perceived how much better they 
came in after 1. 1306. It is not an important matter. 

1296. MS. HI. has :— ' Our host answerd and sayd the sompnour 
this '; which cannot be right. 

The Freres Tale. 

With respect to the source of this Tale, see vol. iii. p. 450. 

1300. erchedeken. As to the duties of the archdeacon, here de- 
scribed, compare A. 655, 658. He enforced discipline by threats of 
excommunication, and inflicted fines for various offences. Compare 
Wyclif's Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 166. 

1305. I.e. he punished church-reeves if they did ill, and all cases in 
which wills or contracts had been wantonly violated. ' Lakke of 
sacraments ' refers, chiefly, to the neglect of the precept to communi- 
cate at Easter ; also to neglect of baptism, and, possibly, of matri- 
mony, as that was also a ' sacrament ' in the church of our fathers. 

1307-8. These two lines occur here in MS. HI. only; see note to 
1294 above. 

1309. Usury was prohibited by the Canon Law ; cf. P. Plowman, 
C. vii. 239. 

1314. ' No fine could save the accused from punishment.' 

1315. ' The neglect to pay tithes and Easter offerings came under 
the archdeacon's jurisdiction, as the bishop's diocesan officer. The 
friar does not scruple to make an invidious use of this subject at the 
expense of the parochial clergy, because, being obliged by his rule to 
gain his livelihood by begging, he had no interest in tithes.' — Bell. 

1317. Alluding to the shape of the bishop's crosier. In P. Plowman, 
C. xi. 92, the crosier is described as having a hook at one end, by 
which he draws men back to a good life, and a spike at the other, 
which he uses against hardened offenders. On the crosier, see Rock, 
Church of Our Fathers, ii. 181. The bishop dealt with such offenders 
as were contumacious to the archdeacon. 

1321. For the character of a Somnour, see A. 623. 

1323. espiaille, set of spies ; see note to B. 2509, p. 213. 

Y 2 


1324. taughte^ informed ; the final e is not elided. 

1327. wood lucre, should be, were to be as mad as a hare. See 
* As mad as a March hare' in Ilazlitt's Proverbs. 

1329. The mendicant orders were subject only to their own general 
or superior, not to the bishops. In the piece called Jack Upland (§ 1 1), 
Jack asks the friars — 'Why be ye not vndcr your bishops visitations, 
and leegemen to our king?' — British Poets, ed. Chalmers, l8io; i. 567. 

1331. terme, i.e. during the term. 

1332. Petc7-, by saint Peter. 'The summoncr's repartee is founded 
upon the law by which houses of ill-fame were exempted from ecclesias- 
tical interference, and licensed.' — Bell. ' Stewes, are those places which 
were permitted in England to women of professed incontinency . . . 
But king Henry VIII., about the year 1546, prohibited them for ever.' 
— Cowel's Interpreter. Cock Lane, Smithfield, contained such houses ; 
see my notes to P. Plowman, C. vii. 366, 367. 

1343. approwotirs, agents, men who looked after his profits. From 
the O . Fr. approzier, apprower, to cause to profit, to enrich ; from the 
O. Fr. sb. proti, profit, whence also E. prowess. Miswritten as 
approver in the seventeenth century, though distinct from approve (from 
approbare). See the New Eng. Dictionary. Tyrwhitt has the spelling 

1347. Cristes curs, i. e. excommunication. 

1849. atie nale, put for atten ale, lit. at the ale, where ale is put for 
'ale-house.' Atien is for A. S. cet thain, where tham is the dat. neut. 
of the def. article. The expression is common; as in 'fouhten atten 
ale,' fought at the ale-house, P. Plowman, C. i. 43 ; * with ydel tales 
atte tiale^ id. C. viii. 19. ' Thou hast not so much charity in thee as to 
goe to the Ale with a Christian'; Two Gent, of Verona, ii. v. 61. So 
also atte noke, for aite7t oke, at the oak ; see note to P. PI. C. vii. 207. 

1350. See John, xii. 6 ; and cf. the Legend of Judas Iscariot, printed 
(from MS. Harl. 2277) in Early Eng. Poems, ed. Furnivall, 1862; 
p. 107. 

1352. diietee (Cp. dewcte) is trisyllabic; see 1. 1391. It is a coined 
word, having no Latin equivalent. The spelling dtiete occurs, in 
Anglo-French, in the Liber Albus, p. 211, I. 23. 

1356. Sir Robert ; the title of Sir was usually given to one of the 
secular clergy ; cf. note to B. 4000, p. 248. 

1364. /«>, her ; so in E. Hn., but other MSS. have thee. The 
reading given is the better. The Somnour fined the man, but let the 
woman go ; and then said that he let her go out of friendship for 
the man. This is intelligible ; but the reading thee gives no sense 
to the words _/&r thy sake. 

1365. * You need not take any more trouble in this matter.' 

1367. brybery-es (four syllables), i. e. modes of robbery. So in MSS. 
Hn. Cm. Cp. MSS. HI. Pt. Ln. have bribotirs, which will not scan, 
unless (as in HI.) we also read Ccrteitily, giving a line defective in the 
first foot. Tyrwhitt inserts inatiy before mo, to fill up the line. 

LI. 1324-408.] THE FRERES TALE. 325 

1369. dogge for the boive, a dog used to accompany an archer, to 
follow up a stricken deer ; see the next line. The docility of such 
a dog is alluded to in E. 2014. 

1373. 'And, because such acquaintance brought him in the chief 
part of all his income.' 

1377. ribybe. In 1. 1 573, she is called 'an old rebckke.^ So in 
Skelton's Elinour Rummyng, 1. 492 : — ' There came an old rybybe.'' 
And Ben Jonson speaks of ' some good ribibe . . . you would hang now 
for a witch '; The Devil is an Ass, i. i. 16. But probably Skelton and 
Ben Jonson merely took the word from Chaucer. A ribybe was, 
properly, a two-stringed Moorish fiddle ; see note to A. 3331. GifTord's 
note on the passage in Ben Jonson, says : — ' Ribibe, together with its 
synonym rebeck, is merely a cant term for an old woman. A ribibe, 
the reader knows, is a rude kind of a fiddle, and the allusion is, 
probably, to the inharmonious nature of its sounds.* Halliwell suggests 
some (improbable) confusion between vetula and viiula. 

I suspect that this old joke, for such it clearly is, arose in a very 
different way, viz. from a pun upon rcbckke, a fiddle, and Rebekke, 
a married woman, from the mention of Rebecca in the marriage-service. 
For Chaucer himself notices the latter in E. 1704, which see. Observe 
that the form 7-ebekke, as applied to the fiddle, is a corrupt one, though 
it is found in other languages. See rebebe in Godefroy's O. F. 
Dictionary, and 7-ebec in Littre. 

1378. Cattse and tuolde are dissyllabic ; and brybe, to rob, is a verb. 
But the editors ignore such elementary facts. The old editions insert 
haue a before brybe ; and the modern editions insert han a ; which, as 
Wright observes, is not to be found in the MSS ! 

1381. See A. 103, 104, 108 ; and, for couricpy, A. 290. 

1382. hadde iipon, had on ; cf. D. 559, 1018. 

1384. ' Well overtaken, well met.' So in Partonope of Elois, 6390 : 
* Syr, wele atake \ ' Cf. G. 556. 

1394. for the fiatne, because of the disgrace attaching to the very 
name. The Friar is severe. 

1405. sworn-e, a plural form ; the word sworn being here used 
adjectivally. See note to A. 1 132, p. 66. 

1408. veniin, spite, wariajigles, shrikes. According to C. Swain- 
son (Provincial Names of British Birds), this is the Red-backed Shrike 
[Laniiis colli/rio), called in Yorkshire the Weirangle or Wariangle. 
Some make it the Great Grey Shrike {Lanitis excubitor). Thus Ray, 
in his Provincial Words, ed. 1674, p. 83, gives warringle as a name 
for the Great Butcher-bird in the Peak of Derbyshire. ' This Bird,* 
says Willughby, ' in the North of England is called Wieraitgle, a name, 
it seems, common to us with the Germans, who (as Gesner witnesseth) 
about Strasburg, Frankfort, and elsewhere, call it Werkaiigel or 
Warkafigel, perchance (saith he) as it were Wiirchaugel, which 
literally rendered signifies " a suffocating angel." ' So also, the mod. G. 
name is Wiirgengel, as if from wiirgen and Engel. But this is a form 


due to popular etymology, as will presently appear. Cotgrave has 
* Pie cngroucc', a Wariangle, or a small Woodpecker ' ; but a wariangle 
is really a Shrike ; indeed Cotgrave also has : * Arncaf, the ravenous 
birde called a Shrike, Nynmurder, Wariangle'; which is correct. In 
the Wars of Alexander, ed. Skeat, 1. 1706, the word wayrynglc occurs 
as a term of abuse, signifying 'a little villain'; this is probably the 
same word, and answers to a dimin. form of A. S. wearg (Icel. vargr, 
O. H. G. warg, ware), a felon, with the suffix -incel, as seen in A. S. 
rdp-tncel, a little rope, hfis-ificel, a little house. Bradley cites, as 
parallel forms, the O. H. G. warchengil (see below), and the M. L. G. 
ivargiftgel, which are probably formed in a similar way. The epithet 
'little felon' or * little murderer' agrees with other names for the 
shrike, viz. 'butcher-bird,' ' murdering-bird,' 'nine-murder,' 'nine- 
killer,' so called because it impales beetles and small birds on thorns, 
for the purpose of pulling them to pieces. This is why I take veniiii 
to mean 'spite' rather than ' poison ' in this passage. 

Schmeller, in his Bavarian Diet., ii. 999, says that the Lanius 
exctibito)- is called, in O. H. G. glosses, Warchengel (G/'aff, i. 349) ; 
also IVargengel, IVurgengei, and IViirgcr. 

1413. norlh coniree. This is a sly joke, because, in the old 
Teutonic mythology, hell was supposed to be in the north. Wright 
refers us, for this belief, to his .St. Patrick's Purgatory. See my note 
to P. Plowman, C. ii. in, about Lucifer's sitting in the norih; cf. 
Isaiah, xiv. 13, 14; Milton, P. L. v. 755-760; Myrour of our Lady, 
ed. Blunt, p. 189. In the Icelandic Gylfaginning, we find — 'ni^r ok 
nor^r liggr Helvegr,' i.e. downwards and northwards lies the way to 
hell. Cf. 1. 1448. 

1428. laborous is right ; offyc-e is trisyllabic. 

1436. A proverbial expression ; still in use in Lancashire and else- 
where ; see N. and O., 7 S. x. 446, 498. Cf. 'a taker and a bribing 
[robbing] feloe, and one for whom nothing was to hottc nor to heaide' 
Udall, tr. of Erasmus' Apophthegmes ; Cicero, § 50. 

' Their loues they on the tenter-hookes did racke, 
Rost, boyl'd, bak'd, too too much white, claret, sacke, 
Nothing they thought too heaiiy nor too hot, 
Canne followed Canne, and pot succeeded pot.' 

John Taylor ; Pennilesse Pilgrimage. 

Of course the sense is — ' too hot to hold.' Tyrwhitt quotes a similar 
phrase from Froissart, v. i. c. 229, ' ne laissoient riens a prendre, s'il 
n'estoit trop chatid, trop froid, ou trap pcsant' 

1439. 'Were it not for my extortion, I could not live.' 
1451. 'What I can thus acquire is the substance of all my income.' 
See note to A. 256 ; and Feck in the New Eng. Dictionary. 

1456. Read ben' cite ; and observe the rime : prey-e, Scy ye. Pro- 
nounce : fprci'yo, sei'yo), where (a) represents the obscure vowel, or 
the a in China. 

LI. 1413-538.] THE FRERES TALE. 327 

1459. Such questions were eagerly discussed in the middle ages ; see 
1. 1461-5. 

1463. make y 01V seme^ make it seem to you. Tyrvvhitt has wette (for 
seme), which occurs in MS. Cp. only. 

1467. iogelou}\ juggler ; for their tricks, see F. 1 143. Wright says : — 
* The jflgelotir {jflctdaior) was originally the minstrel, and at an earlier 
period was an important member of society. He always combined 
mimicry and mountebank performances with poetry and music. In 
Chaucer's time he had so far degenerated as to have become a mere 
mountebank, and as it appears, to have merited the energetic epithet 
here applied to him.' Cf. my note to P. Plowman, C. xvi. 207. 

1472. Read abP is. MS. HI. has : — 'As most abil is our-e pray to 
take.' Cf. F. habile, for which Cotgrave gives one meaning as ' apt 
unto anything he undertakes.' 

1476. pjyme, 9 A. M., a late time with early risers. See note to 

B. 4045, p. 250. 

1483-91. Cf. Boeth. bk. iv. pr. 6. 62-71 ; Job, i. 12; ii. 6. 

1502. I suspect this to be an allusion to a story similar to that entitled 
*A Lay of St. Dunstan' in the Ingoldsby Legends. 

1503. This probably alludes to some of the legends about the apostles. 
Thus, in The Lives of Saints, ed. Horstmann, p. 36, 1. 72, some fiends 
arc represented as doing the will of St. James the Greater ; and in the 
same, p. 368, 1. 50, a fiend says of St. Bartholomew : — ' He mai do with 
us al that he wole, for bi-neothe him we beoth.' Cf. Acts, xi.x. 15. 

1508. ' The adoption of the bodies of the deceased by evil spirits in 
their wanderings upon earth, was an important part of the medieval 
superstitions of this country, and enters largely into a variety of 
legendary stories found in the old chroniclers.'^ Wright. Bell quotes 
from Hamlet, ii. 2 : — ' The spirit that I have seen May be the devil,' &c. 

1509. ixiiably, reasonably. The A. F. form of ' reasonable ' was 
resnablc (as in the Life of Edw. the Confessor, 1. 1602) ; and, by the 
law that s became silent before /, ;//, and n (as in isle, blasmer, disner, 
E. isle, blame, dine), this became I'enable. See note to P. Plowman, 

C. i. 176. 

1510. Phitottissa ; this is another spelling oipyihonissa, which is the 
word used, in the Vulgate version of 1 Chron. x. 13, with reference to 
the witch of Endor. In i Sam. xxviii. 7, the phrase is mulier pythonetn 
habens. The witch of Endor is also called pliitonesse in Gower, Conf. 
Amant. bk. iv, ed. Pauli, ii. 66 ; Barbour's Bruce, iv. 753 ; Skelton's 
Phihp Sparowe, 1. 1345 ; Lydgate's Falls of Princes, bk. ii. leaf xl, ed. 
Wayland ; Gawain Douglas, prol. to the /Eneid, ed. Small, ii. 10, 1. 2 ; 
and in Sir D. Lyndesay's Monarche, bk. iv. 1. 5842. And see Hous of 
Fame, 1261. Cf. ivviv\xa Xlvduivo';, Acts, xvi. 16. 

1518. ill a chayer rede, lecture about this matter as in a professorial 
chair, lecture like a professor; cf. 1. 1638. The fiend is satirical. 

1519. Referring to Vergil's yEneid, bk. vi, and Dante's Inferno. 
1528. This much resembles A. 1 132, q. v. 


1541. for luhich, for wliich reason ; stood, stood still, was stuck fast. 

1543. In Brand's Topular Antiquities, cd. Kllis, ii. 15, ^ Heit or 
Heck' is mentioned as being 'a well-known interjection used by the 
country people to their horses.' Brand adds that * the name of Brok 
is still, too, in frequent use amongst farmers' draught oxen.' In the 
Towneley Mysteries, p. 9, is the exclamation ^hyte\ ' The word for 
* stop ! ' was ' /io[' like the modern -w/ioa ! This explains a line in 
Gascoigne's Dan Bartholmew of Bathe, ed. Hazlitt, i. 136: — 'His 
thought sayd haight, his sillie speache cryed ho' Bell notes that 
' Ilayt is still the word used by waggoners in Norfolk, to make their 
horses go on'; and adds— ' ^r^iyi' means a badger, hence applied to 
a gray horse, viyne owene lyard boy (1. 1563). Scot is a common 
name for farm-horses in East-Anglia ; as in A. 616.' In the Towneley 
Mysteries, p. 9, names of oxen are Malle, Stoit (doubtless miswritten 
for Scott), Lonyng, Morel/c, and White-home. The Craven Glossary 
says hyte is used to turn horses to the left ; whilst the Ger. hott ! or 
hottot ! is used to turn them to the right. In Shropshire, 'ait or 'eet, 
said to horses, means 'go from me'; see Waggoners' Words in Miss 
Jackson's Shropsh. Wordbook. 

1548. MS. HI. has— 'her schal we se play.' Tyrwhitt has fray, 
which gives a false rime, for it should be prey-e\ see 1. 1455, and the 
note to 1. 1456. The six MSB. all have aplcy. 

1559. ihakkcth (pronounced thakk'th) his hors, pats, or strokes his 
horses ; to encourage them. From A. S. paccian, to stroke (a horse), 
Gregory's Pastoral Care, ed. Sweet, p. 303, 1. 10. So also in A. 3304. 
(Not to thwack, or ivhack.) 

1560. I adopt the reading of MSS. E. and Hn. MSS. Cm. Pt. Ln. 
have : — * And they bigunne to drawe and to stoupe,' which throws an 
awkward accent on the former to. MS. HI. has : — 'And thay bygon 
to drawen and to stowpe.' But I take to-stoupe to be a compound 
verb, with the sense 'stoop forward'; though I can find no other 
example of its use. Being uncommon, it would easily have been 
resolved into two words, and this would necessitate the introduction 
of to before drawen. Bigomie usually takes to after it, but not 
always ; cf. ' lapen tho bigan,' B. 1883. 

1563. twight, pulled, lit. * twitched.' ' Liard, a common appellative 
for a horse, from \\.s grey colour, as bayard \v?ls from bay (see A. 41 15). 
See P. Plowman, C. xx. 64 [and my note on the same]. Bp. Douglas, 
in his Virgil, usually puts Hart for albus, incanus, &c.' — T. Other 
names of horses are, Faveliox a chestnut, Dun for a dun horse, Ferrand 
for an iron-gray, and Morel, i. e. mulberry-coloured, for a roan. 

1564. I give the reading of MSS. Hn. Cp. Pt, Ln., and of the 
black-letter editions. MS. HI. has ' I pray god saue thy body and 
seint loy' ; for which Cm. has 'the body,' as if 'the' were the original 
reading, and ' body ' a supplied word. I take se-ynt to be dissyllabic, 
as in A. 120, 509, 697, D. 604. As to seiiit Loy, the patron-saint 
of goldsmiths, farriers, smiths, and carters, see note to A. 1 20. 

LL 1541630] THE FRERES TALE. 329 

1568. Cf. Rom. de la Rose, 10335-6 : 'car ge fesoie Une chose, et 
autre pensoie.' 

1570. Jip07i cartage, by way of quitting my claim to this cart and 
team ; a satirical reflection on his failure to win anything by the 
previous occurrence. Cariagc was a technical term for a service of 
carrying, or a payment in lieu of it, due from a tenant to his landlord 
or feudal superior; see the New Eng. Dictionary, s. v. Carriage, I. 4. 
The landlord used to claim the use of the tenant's horses and carts 
for his own service, without payment for the use of them ; and the 
tenant could only get off by paying cariage. This difficult use of 
the word is exemplified by two other passages in Chaucer, one of which 
is in the Cant. Tales, I. 752 ; q. v. The other is in his Boethius, 
bk. i. pr. 4, 1. 50, where he says : — ' The poepic of the provinces ben 
harmed outher by privee ravynes, or by comune tributes or cariages^ 
where the Lat. text has tccctigalibus. 

1573. rcbckke, old woman; lit. Rebecca; see note to 1. 1377 above. 

1576. Twelve pence was a considerable sum in those days ; being 
equivalent to something like fifteen shillings of our present money. 

1580. li'Zfme thy cost, earn your expenses. 

1582. viritraie, a term of contempt for an old woman. Cf. ' thou 
olde irot^ addressed to an old woman ; Thersites, in Hazlitt's Old 
Plays, i. 415. Jamieson gives b-at, an old woman ; with three 
examples from G. Douglas. Levins (1570J has : ' Tratte, atius.' 

1591. luisly, certainly. I ne may, I cannot (come). 

1593. go, walk; as usual, when used with ryde. 

1595. axe a libel, apply to have a written declaration of the com- 
plaint against me, i.e. a copy of the indictment. 

1596. procutour, proctor, to appear on my behalf. Only MS. HI. 
has the full iorm p7-ocieralour ; the rest \\di\& proctilour or procalour, as 
suitable for the metre. These forms are interesting, as furnishing 
the intermediate step between procurator and proctor. So, in the 
Prompt. Parv., we find ' proketowre, Procurator^ and ' prokecye, Pro- 
curacia '; whence, by loss of e, proctor and proxy, there is dis- 
syllabic, as in A. 3165, and frequently, 

1613. Seintc Anne, saint Anna, whose day is July 26. In Luke, ii. 
36, is mentioned ' Anna the prophetess.' At the commencement of the 
apocryphal gospel of Mar)', we are told that the virgin's ' father's name 
was Joachim, and her mother's Anna.' This is the saint Anna here 
alluded to. See B. 641 ; G. 70; and Cursor Mundi, 1. 10147. Hence 
it became a common practice to give a girl the name of Mary Ann, 
which combined the name of the virgin with that of her mother. 

1617. I payde, and which I paid. 

1618. lixt, liest ; a common form; see P. Plowman, C. vii. 138 (B.v. 
163) ; Plowman's Crede, 542. 

1630. stot, properly a stallion (as in A. 615), or a bullock; also 
applied, as in the Cleveland Glossary, to an old ox. Here it clearly 
means ' old cow,' as a term of abuse. 


1635. by right \ because the old woman really meant it; cf. 
1. 1568. 

1644. leve, grant. Tyrwhitt wrongly has lene, lend. The differ- 
ence between these two words, which are constantly confused (being 
written Ictie, lene, often indistinguishably is explained in my note to 
P. Plowman, 15. v. 263. Leiie (grant, permit) is usually followed by 
a dependent clause ; but lene (lend, grant, give) by an accusative 

1647. I supply atid to fill up the line. This and appears in all the 
modern editions, but ivitJiout authority, ajid without any notice that 
the MSS. omit it. Yet it neither appears in any one of our seven MSS. 
nor in MSS. Dd., li., or Mm. Neither does it appear in the black-letter 
editions. Indeed MS. E. marks the scansion thus : After the text of 
Crist I Poul [ and John ; as if the word ' Poul ' occupied a whole foot 
of the verse. And I can readily believe that the line was meant to be 
so scanned. 

1657. See Ps. x. 9. sit, short for sitteth. 

1661. See i Cor. x. 13. over, above, beyond. 

1662. For Christ as a 'knight,' see P. Plowman, C. xxi. 11 ; Ancren 
Riwle, p. 390. 

1663. For Somnours, several MSS. have Somnour. MS. Cm. is 
defective; MS. Dd. supports the reading which I have given. It is 
immaterial, as thise Somnours includes the particular Somnour who 
was one of the party. 

The Sompnour's Prologue. 

1676. The words of St. Paul, 2 Cor. xii. 4, have suggested numerous 
accounts of revelations made to saints regarding heaven and hell. In 
Bede's Eccl. Historj', bk. iii. c. 19, we are told how St. Furseus saw 
a vision of hell ; so also did St. Guthlac, as related in his life, cap. 5. 
A long vision of purgatory is recounted in the Revelation to the Monk 
of Evesham, ed. Arber ; and another in the account of St. Patrick's 
Purgatory, in the Lives of Saints, ed. Horstmann. Long descriptions 
of hell are common, as in the Cursor Mundi, 1. 23195, and Hampole's 
Pricke of Conscience, 1. 6464. But the particular story to which Chaucer 
here alludes is, probably, not elsewhere extant. 

1688. Possibly Chaucer was thinking of the wings of Lucifer, greater 
than any sails, as described in Dante's Inferno, xxxiv. 48 ; whence 
also Milton speaks of Satan's ' sail-broad vans,' P. L. ii. 927. A carrik 
or carrack is a large trading-ship, and we have here the earliest known 
example of the use of the word in English ; see Carrack in the New 
Eng. Dictionary. 

1690-1. Cf. Rom. of the Rose, 7577-8 ; in vol. i. p. 257. 

1695. Line 2119 of the House of Fame is: 'Twenty thousand 
in a route'; here we have the same line with the addition oi /reres. 

LI. 1635 728-1 THE SOMNOURS TALE. 331 

Both lines are cast in the same mould, both being deficient in the first 
foot. Thus the scansion is: Twen ty thou j sand, &c. In order to 
conceal this fact, Tyrwhitt reads : 'A twenty thousand,' &c., against 
all authority ; but Wright, Bell, Morris, and Oilman all allow the line 
to stand as Chaucer wrote it, and as it is here given. The black-letter 
editions do the same. It is a very small matter that all the copies 
except E. have on for 7/1 ; as the words are equivalent, I keep t'n 
(as in E.), because in is the reading in the Hous of Fame. 

The Somnours Tale. 

For further remarks about this Tale, see vol. iii. p. 452. 

It is principally directed against the Frere ; see the description of 
him in the Prologue, A. 208. 

1710. Holderness is an extremely flat district ; it lies at the S. E. 
angle of Yorkshire, between Hull, Driffield, Bridlington and Spurn 
Point: see the Holderness Glossary, E. D. S. 1877. We find that 
Chaucer makes no attempt here, as in the Reeve's Tale, to imitate the 
Yorkshire dialect. 

1712. to preche. The friars were popular preachers of the middle 
ages. They were to live by begging, and were therefore often called 
the Mendicant Orders; see 1. 1912, and the notes to A. 208, 209. 
The friar of our story was a Carvieliie ; see note to 1. 21 16. 

1717. irenials. A (rental (from Low Lat. irentale, O. F. trentel) 
was an office of thirty masses, to be said on so many consecutive days, 
for the benefit of souls in purgatory. It also meant, as here, the sum 
paid for the same to the priest or frjar. See Wyclif's Works, ed. 
Arnold, iii. 299, 374; ed. Matthew (E. E. T. S.) pp. 211, 516; and 
the poem entitled St. Gregory^'s Trental, in Religious, Political, and 
Love Poems, ed. Fumivall, p. Z},. 

1722. possessioners. This term seems to have been applied (i) to 
the regular orders of monks who possessed landed property, and (2) to 
the beneficed clergy\ I think there is here particular reference to the 
latter, as indicated by the occurrence oi preest in 1. 1727, curat in 
1816, and viker and persone in 1. 2008. The friars, on the contrary, 
were supposed to have no endowments, but to subsist entirely upon 
alms ; they contrived, howe%'er, to evade this restriction, and in 
Pierce the Plowman's Crede, there is a description of a Dominican 
convent built with considerable splendour. I take the expression 
'Thanked be god' in 1. 1723 to be a parenthentical remark made by 
the Somnour who tells the stor)', as it is hardly consistent with the 
views of the friars. As to the perpetual jealousies between the friars 
and the possessioners, see P. Plowman, B. v. 144. 

1728. It was usual (as said in note to 1. 1717) to sing the thirty 
masses on thirty consecutive days, as Chaucer here remarks. But the 
friar says they are better when 'hastily y-songe'; and it would appear 


that the friars used occasionally to sing all the thirty masses in one 
day, and so save a soul from twenty-nine days of purgatory ; cf. 11. 
1729, 1732. In English Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith, p. 8, we have an 
example of this. The wardens are there directed to summon the 
Minorite Friars to say the dirge, 'and on the vwnve to seie a trcnt of 
masses atte same freres.' 

In Jack Upland, § 13, we find : ' Why make ye [freres] men 
belceue that your golden trentall sung of you, to take therefore ten 
shillings, or at least fine shillings, woll bring souls out of hell, or out 
of purgatorie ? ' 

1730. oules. The M. E. forms oule, oivel, owul, as well as A. S. 
aiuul, awel, are various spellings of E. awl, which see in the New Eng. 
Diet. Hence oules means awls or piercing instruments. In the Life 
cf St. Katherine, 1. 2178, the tormentors torture the saint with 'eawles 
of irne,' i.e. iron awls. In Horstmann's South-English Legendary (E. E. 
T. S.), St. Blase is tormented with ' oules kene,' which tore his flesh as 
when men comb wool (p. 487, 1. 84) ; hence he became the patron saint of 
wool-combers. Similar tortures were applied by fiends in the medieval 
descriptions of hell. See Ancren Riwle, p. 212 ; St. Brandan, ed. 
Wright, pp. 22, 48. 

* There are the furies tossing damned souls 
On burning forks.' 

Marlowe, Faustus, Act v. sc. 4. 

1734. qui cum paire. ' This is part of the formula with which 
prayers and sermons are still sometimes concluded in the Church of 
England.' — Bell. In a sermon for Ascension Day, in Morris's O. E. 
Homilies, ii. 1 1 5, we have at the end an allusion, in English, to Christ, 
after which follows : — ' qui cum patre et spiritu sancto uiuit et regnat 
per omnia secula seculorum.' Such was the usual formula. 

1740. The friars often begged in pairs ; in this way, each was a check 
upon the other as regarded the things thus obtained. In Jack Upland, 
§ 23, we find the friars are asked: — 'What betokeneth that ye goe 
tweine and tweine togither ? ' Langland tells us how he met two friars ; 
see P. Plowman, C. xi. 8. 

1741. tables, writing tablets. In Horman's Vulgaria, leaf 81, we 
read : — ' Tables be made of leues of yuery, boxe, cyprus, and other 
stoufife, daubed with waxe to wrytte on.' And again, in the same : — 
' Poyntellis of yron, and poyhtyllis of syluer, bras, boon, or stoone.' 
This is a survival of the use of the Roman waxed tablet and stilus. 

1743. Jack Upland (§ 20) asks the friar : — ' Why writest thou hir 
names in thy tables that yeueth thee mony ? * The usual reason was, 
that the donors might be prayed for ; see 1. 1745. Cf. 1. 1752. 

1745. Ascaunces, as if, as though, as if to promise. In G. 838, q. v., 
it means ' you might suppose that,' or ' possibly.' In Troilus, i. 205, it 
means 'as if to say'; Boccaccio's Italian has quasi dicesse. It also 
occurs in Troilus, i. 292 ; Lydgate, Fall of Princes, fol. 136 b (Tyrwhitt); 

L1.I730-551 THE SOMNOURS TALE. 333 

Tale of Beryn, 1797; Palladius on Husbandry, vi. 39; Sidney's 
Arcadia, ed. 1622, p. 162 ; and in Gascoigne's Works, ed. Hazlitt, i. 113, 
where the marginal note has ' as who should say.' See the New Eng. 
Dictionary, where the etymology is said to be unknown. 

I have since found that it is a hybrid compound. The first part of 
it is E. as, used superflously and tautologically ; the latter part of it is 
the O. F. qtcanses, ' as if,' first given in a dictionary by Godefroy in 1889, 
with six examples, and three other spellings, viz. qanscs, quatnses, and 
queinsi. Godefroy refers us to Romania, xviii. 152, and to Foersler's 
edition of Cliges, note to 1. 4553. Kilian gives Mid. Du. ' qiiantsuys, 
quasi'; borrowed from O. French, without any prefix. 

1746. Nothing came amiss to tlie friars. They begged for 'corn, 
monee, chese,' Sec. ; see Wyclifs Works, ed. Matthew, p. 304. And in 
Skelton's Colin Clout, 1. 842, we read of the friars : — 

' Some to gather chese ; 
Loth they are to lese 
Eyther corne or malte ; 
Somtyme meale and sake, 
Somtyme a bacon-flycke,' &c. 

1747. Goddes here translated the French expression de Dieu, mean- 
ing ' sent from God.' Tyrwhitt says that the true meaning of de Dieu 
* is explained by M. de la Monnoye in a note upon the Contes de D. B. 
Periffs, t. ii. p. 107. Be/ie serrure de Dieu: Expression du petit 
peuple, qui raporte pieusement tout k Dieu. Rien n'est plus commun 
dans la bouche des bonnes vieilles, que ces esp&ces d'H^braismes : // 
7)i'efi conte un bel ^cic de Dieu j II ne me resie que ce fauvre enfant de 
Dieu. Domtes-fnoi line Unite aumone de Dieu. See geddes halfpeny 
in I. 1749. (The explanation by Speght, and in Cowel's Interpreter, 
s. V. kichell, seems to be, as Tyrwhitt says, an invention.) 

kecltil, a little cake. The form kechell occurs in the Ormulum, 
1. 8662 ; answering to the early A. S. coecil, occurring as a gloss to tortiim 
in the Kpinal Glossary, 993; diflferent from A.S. cicel (for cycel), 
given as cicel in Bosworth's Dictionary. The cognate M. H. G. word is 
kiiecheltn (Schade), O. H. G. chuochclni, double dimin. from O. H. G. 
kuocho (G. Ktichcfi), a cake ; see Kuchen in Kluge. The E. cake is 
a related word, but with a difference in vowel-gradation. 

trip, ' a morsel.' * Les tripes d'un fagot, the smallest sticks in a 
faggot'; Cotgrave. 

1749. masse-peny, a penny for saying a mass. Jack Upland, § 19, 
says : — ' Freer, whan thou receiuest a peny for to say a masse, whether 
sellest thou Gods body for that peny, or thy prayer, or els thy travell .'' ' 

1751. '■dagon, a slip, or piece. It is found in Chaucer, Bemers, and 
Steevens' Supp. to Dugdale, ii. ap. 370, applied in each instance to 
a blanket '; Halliwell. Cf. M. E. dagge, a strip of cloth. 

1755. Jiostes man, servant to the guests at the convent. Hoste seems 
here to mean ' guest,' which is one of the meanings of O. F. hoste (see 


Cotgrave). This sense is rare in M. E., but it occurs in the Romance 
of Merlin, ed. Wheatley, iii. 684, last line but one. Because he ' bare 
the bag,' this attendant on the friars was nicknamed Iscariot ; cf. John, 
xii. 6. ' Thei leden with hem a Scarioth, stolen fro is eldris by thefte, 
to robbe pore men bi beggynge '; Wyclif's Works, ed. Matthew, p. 49. 

1768. the gode man, the goodman, or master of the house. MS. HI. 
has housbond-inaii, and MSS. Cp. Ln. bonde man ; all with the same 
sense, place, house; cf. note to B. 1910; p. 184. 

1770. Detis hie, God be here ; ' the ordinary formula of benediction 
on entering a house '; Wright. 

1775. A fine realistic touch ; the friar made himself quite at home. 

1778. go walked, gone on a walk. For go wa/hed, as in all the seven 
MSS., Tyrwhitt substitutes y-walkcd, suppressing this characteristic 
idiom. See note to C. 406 ; p. 272. 

1792. glose, gloss, interpretation, as distinguished from the text. 

1794. Cf 2 Cor. iii. 6. In the margin of E., ' Litera occidit, &c.' 

1804. Kissing was an ordinary form of salutation. 

1810. It was usual, I believe, to use a form of deprecation of this 
sort in reply to praise. The sense is — ' but I am aware that I have 
defects, and may God amend them.' 

1816. curats, parish clergy ; cf note to 1. 1722. 

1820. Cf. 'thou shalt catch men'; Luke, v. 10; 'fishers of men,' 
Matt. iv. 19; Rom. Rose, (E. version), 7492. 

1824. ' Yor (the sake of the) holy Trinity.' Seini-e is feminine. 

1825. pisseinyre, ant. Cf. ' as angry as a wasp,' in Heywood's 

1832. le vous dy, I tell you. A common phrase ; see King Ali- 
saunder, ed. Weber, 1. 79 ; Rom. of the Rose, 7408 (in vol. i. p. 254). 

1834. ire (Lat. ira) is one of the seven deadly sins ; hence the friar's 
sermon against it, in 11. 2005-2088. 

1842. ' But I hope no animal is ever killed on my account.' A strong 
hint that he always expected some special provision to be made for 

1845. Cf. John, iv. 34 ; Job, xxiii. 12. 

1853. toun, village ; or, precincts of this farm-house. 

1857. Visions of saints being carried to heaven are not uncommon. 
Bede relates one, of Saint Earcongota ; Eccl. Hist. bk. iii. c. 8. 

\^h^. fermerer, the friar who had charge of the infirmary. Put for 
enfermerer, from O. Fr. enfennerier (Godefroy). So sXso/ermorie, an 
infirmary, in P. PI. B. xiii. 108. 

1862. viaken hir Jubilee, keep their jubilee ; i. e. having served fifty 
years in the convent, they have obtained certain privileges, one of which 
was to go about alone; see note to 1. 1740. Tyrwhitt refers us to 
Ducange, s. v. Sejnpectce. 

1864. triklittg, so E. Hn. ; Cm. itynkelynge (probably by error) ; 
resi trilling. Cf. B. 1864. 

1866. ' Nothing but a thanksgiving would have been appropriate for 

LI. 1768-934] THE SOMNOURS TALE. 335 

a child dying in infancy, of whose translation to paradise the friar pre- 
tends that he had seen a vision '; Bell. 

1872, burel (Pt. HI. borel) folk, lay folk, the laity. ' The term seems 
to have arisen from the material of their clothing, which was not used 
by the clergy'; Wright. Cf. borel, in D. 356; borel men, i.e. laymen, 
in B. 3145 ; and borel clerkes, lay clerks, learned laymen, in P. Plow- 
man, B. X. 286. 

1H77. See Luke, xvi. 19, 20. 

1880. In the margin of E., ' Melius est animam saginare quam 
corpus.' Jean de Meun, in his Testament, 346, says of misers : 
'Amegrient leurs ames, plus que leurs cors n'engressent.' 

1881. See 1 Tim. vi. 8. 
1885. See Exod. xxxiv. 28. 
1890. See l Kings, xix. 8. 
1894. See Levit. x. 9. 

1906. inendinants, mendicant friars. Tyrwhitt has viendiants, but. 
In his notes, admits that inendinants is the right reading, as he found 
the word to be * constantly so spelled in the Stat. 12 Rich. IL capp. 7, 
8, 9, 10.' The same spelling occurs repeatedly in P. Plowman; see 
note to P. PI. C. xvi. 3. See Mettdicner, to beg, in Godefroy's O. Fr, 

1911. ' The thridde deceyt of thise ordris is that thei passen othere in 
preyeris, bothe for tyme thei preyen and for multitude of hem '; Wyclifs 
Works, ed. Matthew, p. 317. 

1915-7. See note to C. 505 ; p. 278. 

1923. See Matt. v. 3. by freres, (1922), concerning friars. Certainly, 
there is no ' text ' to this effect ; but the friar trusted to find it /« a maner 
glose, in some kind of comment on the text. 

1926. An allusion Xo possessioners \ see note to 1. 1722. 

1929. lovtnian. I think this is the same Jovinian as is mentioned in 
D. 675 ; for Chaucer frequently quotes the treatise by Jerome against 
this heretic. Gibbon, in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 
ch. 30, refers in a footnote to 'Jovinian, the enemy of fasts and of celibacy, 
who was persecuted and insulted by the furious Jerome.' The other 
Jovinian was a fabulous Roman emperor, who was awhile deposed, like 
Nebuchadnezzar, for his pride and luxury, as related in the Gesta 
Romanorum, cap. 59 (or chapter 23 in the English version). 

lualkinge as a swan, i. e. with slow and stately gait. Jerome (Contra 
lovin. i. 40) calls Jovinian 'isteformosus monachus, crassus, nitidus, et 
quasi sp07tsus semper incedens.' 

1931. 'AH as full of wine as a bottle in the buttery.' 

1932. For grei, ed. 1550 has lytle ; but, as Tyrwhitt remarks, the 
expression is ironical. 

1933. Davit is put for David, for the rime. MSS. E. Hn. Ln. have 
Dauit; Cm. datiith; Cp. HI. dauid; Pt. davyd. 

1934. Lo but is the reading of MS. E. But the right reading is 
probably btif not but. The readings are ; E. lut; Hn. Cm. Ln. buf; 


Cp. buff\ Pt. bop (wrongly) ; HI. boef\ ed. 1550, bouffe. This gives 
the line in the following form : — 

Lo, ' buf ! ' they seye, ' cor ineum eructavit ! ' 

Here the interjectional ' bitf\ ' is probably intended to represent the 
sound of eructation. We find baw ! as an interjection of strong con- 
tempt in P. Plowman, C. xiii. 74, xxii. 398. 

Ps. xlv (xliv in the Vulgate) begins, in Latin, with the words Cormeum 
eruciauit uerbum boium ; and the Somnour here takes ertictaidi in 
the most literal sense. 

1935. fore, path, course ; such is certainly the right reading, as in 
D. 110, on which see the note. 

1937. See James, i. 22. 

1938. at a sours, at a soaring, in her rise, in her upward swoop. The 
same word as source of a river ; from F. source, O. F. sorse, the fern, 
pp. of the verb which arose from Lat. stirgere. Most likely, this is the 
origin of the later souse, v., in the sense ' to swoop downward '; see 
Pope, Epilogue to Satires, Dial. ii. 15 ; Sh. K. John, v. 2. 150 ; Spenser, 
F. Q. i. 5. 8. See my note on the House of Fame, 1. 544. In the Book 
of St. Alban's, fol. di, back, we find : ' Iff your hawke nym the fowle 
a-lofte, ye shall say, she toke it at the mount or at the souce'; where 
the r is dropped. 

1939. /het'r, for the eir, the air ; see footnote. 

1943. Sei'nt Vve; see the note to B. 1417 (p. 172), with which this 
line entirely coincides. 

1944. ' If thou wert not our brother, thou wouldst not fare well' ; see 
1. 1951. 

1947. iveldcn, wield, have the full use of. 

1963-5. These lines are quoted by the friar as (supposed) ejaculations 
by Thomas. 

1968. In the margin of MS. E., ' Omnis virtus unita fortior est seipsa 
dispersa.' Compare the fable in .(tsop about the difficulty of breaking 
a bundle of sticks ; and see Boeth. bk. iii. pr. 1 1. 37-40. 

1973. See Luke, x. 7. In the margin of MS. E., ' Dignus est 
operarius mercede, &c.' 

1980. ' In the life of Thomas of India.' For this construction, see 
note to F. 209. St. Thomas the apostle is often so called, because he 
is said to have preached in India ; and perhaps the tradition is true ; 
see my note on P. Plowman, C. xxii. 165, and especially the remarks 
in Marco Polo, ed. Yule, ii. 292. Cf. note to E. 1230 (p. 353). 

The mention of the ' building up of churches ' refers to a well-known 
legend of St. Thomas, who built churches with the money given to him 
by King Gondoforus for the purpose of building a palace. 

* Churchene he arerde mani on, and preostes he sette there.' 

Legends of Saints, ed. Horstmann, p. 381. 

The story is prettily told in Mrs. Jameson's Sacred and Legendary 

LI. 1935-3005.] THE SOMNOURS TALE. 337 

Cf. * Seyn Tomas of Ynde '; Amis and Amiloun, 758, in Weber, Met. 
Rom. ii. 401. So also in The Assumption of our Lady, 775 ; in King 
Horn, ed. Lumby, p. 96 ; Political and other Poems, ed. Furnivall, 
p. 112, 1. 19, p. 123, 1. 278, p. 139, 1. 735. 

How intent the friars were on building fine churches and convents 
for their own use, appears from Wyclif's Works, ed. Matthew, pp. 5, 
14; Pierce the Plowman's Crede, 191 ; Jack Upland, § 10, and § 33 ; 
Skelton's Colin Clout, 936; &c. 

1986. * As will be best for thee.' Tyrwhitt has the for thy\ but thy 
is right. I find in the New K. Diet., s. v. Best, 8 b, a quotation from 
Sir E. Sandys, Europae Speculum (1637), 247 : * I have also, to my best, 
avoyded that rashnesse.' Cf. * for your beste,' in B. 2427. 

1989. 'Be not as a lion in thy house, nor frantick among thy 
servants'; Ecclus. iv. 30. In the margin of ^LS. E. is the Vulgate 
version (Ecclus. iv. 35): — 'Noli esse sicut leo in domo tua, euertens 
domesticos tuos, et opprimens subiectos tibi.' 

1993. hir, her ; so in all the MSS. but Pt., which has //v. Tyrwhitt 
has wrongly taken ire as the reading, and Wright and Bell follow him, 
without giving any notice that MS. HI. reads hir ! But it makes all the 
difference; hir means 'thy wife'; cf. 11. 1994-2004, all of which lines 
are robbed of their meaning by this insidious and uncalled-for alteration. 
Even ed. 1550 and ed. 1561 have her. 

It is easily seen how the error crept in, viz. from confusion with the 
friar's sermon against ire ; but that does not really begin till we come 
to 1. 2005. 

As this passage has been so grossly misunderstood, I annex an 
outline of the sense intended. 'Beware of thy wife ; she is like the 
snake in the grass ; remember how many men have lost their lives 
through their wives. WvX your wM^ is a meek one ; then why strive? 
No serpent is so venomous as a provoked woman.' The fact is, that 
this passage is imitated from Le Roman de la Rose, 16779, &c., where 
the author bids us beware of women, as being like Vergil's ' snake in the 
grass.' See next note. With 11. 2001-3 cf. Rom. de la Rose, 9832-6. 

1995. Cf. ' latet anguis in herba'; Vergil, Eel. iii. 95. See F. 512, 
513. But Chaucer took this at second-hand, viz. from Le Roman de la 
Rose, 1. 16793 ; and combined it with another passage from the same, 
9832-6, which, in its turn, is copied from Ovid, Ars Amat. ii. 376:— 
' Nee breuis ignaro uipera laesa pede Femina quam,' &;c. 

2002. tret, short for tredeth, treads. Cm. has trat. Cf. hit, hideth, 
F. 512 ; rit, rideth, A. 974 ; &c. 

2003. Cf. ' furens quid foemina possit ' ; Vergil, yEn. v. 6. 

' Nulla uis flammae tumidique uenti 
Tanta, nee teli metuenda torti 
Quanta cum coniux uiduata taedis 
Ardet et odit.' Seneca, Medea ; iii. 567. 

2005. Here begins the sermon against ire. See the Persones Tale, 

* * * y 

* * 


I. 533. oon, Sec, ' one of the chief of the seven Deadly Sins ' ; all of 
which are described in the Persones Tale ; see I. 387. 

After 1. 2004, MS. HI. has two spurious lines, for which see the 
footnote. It is probable, however, that they are reminiscences of two 
(fefiii/fie lines ; for they occur in Le Rom. de la Rose, 16536-8. There 
are two more such after 1. 2012, where the sense oi grate is not obvious. 

2007. himself, i.e. the sinner. See Pers. Tale, I. 557. 

2009. ho7nicyde\ see this, in full, in the Pers. Tale, I. 564-579. 

2010. 'Ire comth of pryde'; I. 534. 

2017. ' /'^V^j/«/, a chief magistrate ' ; Halliwell. '/"tf^/lj^/rt, a potestate, 
a mayor ' ; Florio. See Malory, Morte Arth. bk. v. c. 8. 

2018. Sefiek, Seneca. The story is given in Seneca's De Ira, i. 16, 
beginning : — ' Cn. Piso fuit memoria nostra, uir a multis uitiis integer, 
sed prauus,' &c. It ends : — ' Constituti sunt in eodem loco perituri 
tres, ob unius innocentiam.' This Piso was a governor of Syria under 
Tiberius. Precisely the same story is told, of the emperor Heraclius, 
in the Gesta Romanorum, cap. cxl. Warton gravely describes it in the 
words — 'The emperor Eraclius reconciles (!) two knights.' 

2030-1. Wright says these two lines are not in Tyrwhitt, but he is 
mistaken. His note was meant to refer to the spurious lines (in MS. 
HI.) after 1. 2037 ; the former of which is repeated from 1. 2030, 

2043. 'This story is also in Seneca, De Ira, lib. iii. c. 14. It differs 
a little from one in Herodotus, lib. iii.' [capp. 34, 35].^Tyrwhitt. 
Seneca's story begins : — * Cambysen regem nimis deditum uino 
Praexaspes unus ex carissimis monebat.' 

2048. Here MS. HI. inserts two more spurious lines, for the fourth 
time ; see the footnote. 

2061. MSS. E. Hn. Cp. Ln. Dd. all insert /«/, which is necessary to 
the rhythm. MSS. Pt. HI. omit it, and actually read dronk-e (!), with 
an impossible final e. Tyrwhitt has dranke, omitting////, and even 
Wright, Bell, and Morris have dronk-e, with the same omission. 
Owing to the carelessness of scribes, who often added an idle final e, 
such forms as dranke, dronke are not very astonishing. But it would 
be very curious to know how these editors scanned this line. 

2075. Placebo. ' The allusion is to an anthem in the Romish church, 
from Ps. cxvi. 9, which in the Vulgate [Ps. cxiv. 9] stands thus : 
Placebo Domino in regione tcitioriim. Hence the complacefit brother 
in the Marchanfs Tale is called Placebo' — Tyrwhitt. Being used in 
the office for the dead, this anthem was familiar to every one ; and 
'to sing Placebo' came to mean 'to be complaisant'; as in Bacon, 
Essay 20. See Pers. Tale, I. 617 ; and see my notes to P. Plowman, 
C. iv. 467 (B. iii. 307), B. xv. 122. 

2079. This story is also from Seneca, De Ira, lib. iii. c. 21. Cf. 
Herodotus, i. 189, 202 ; v. 52. In these authorities, the river is called 
the Gyndes ; and in Alfred's translation of Orosius, bk. ii. c. 4, it is 
the Gandes. ' Sir John Maundeville (Travels, cap. 5) tells this story 
of the Euphrates.' — Wright. 


LI. 2007-126.] THE SOMNOURS TALE. 339 

2085. he, i.e. Solomon ; see Prov. xxii. 24, 25. 

2090. as Iicst as is a squire, as exact (i. e. upright) as a square. He 
means that he wil